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Software Engineer Resume Format: Which One Is Best?

Learn which of the three standard resume formats to choose for your software engineering resume. And, on top of that, get tips for formatting your document professionally to ensure it looks polished and elegant.

June 1, 2024

Your resume is your foremost tool to land a job interview, and as a software engineer, presenting your skills and experience clearly and effectively is crucial. There are three standard resume formats: chronological, functional, and combination. Choosing the right resume format and ensuring it meets standard formatting criteria can significantly influence your job search success by highlighting your strengths in the best light.

The Three Standard Resume Formats and Which One to Choose for Your Software Engineering Resume

Chronological Resume

The chronological resume format is the most widely used and highlights your work experience in reverse chronological order.

  • Best For: Software engineers with a stable career history and a progressive work experience that showcases upward mobility.
  • Pros: This format emphasizes consistent work history and professional growth, making it easier for hiring managers to see your career development.
  • Cons: If you have employment gaps or frequent job changes, this format could highlight these issues.

Functional Resume

The functional resume focuses on your skills and qualifications rather than your work history. It groups your experience under various skill sets.

  • Best For: Entry-level software engineers, career changers, or those with gaps in their employment history.
  • Pros: This format allows you to emphasize relevant skills and projects over employment chronology.
  • Cons: Some hiring managers may be skeptical of this format, suspecting it might mask inconsistencies in work history.

Combination Resume

The combination resume merges the elements of both chronological and functional formats. It starts with a skills section followed by a detailed work history.

  • Best For: Software engineers with a wealth of experience and relevant skills who want to showcase both.
  • Pros: It balances the strength of a skill-based layout with the consistency of a chronological work history.
  • Cons: This format can become lengthy and may not be as easy to skim quickly.

How to Format a Software Engineering Resume Professionally

Once you decide on the format, ensure your resume's presentation is polished and professional. Below are essential formatting tips:

Fonts and Font Sizes

  • Use a clean, professional font such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman.
  • Keep font sizes between 10–12 points for the body text and 14–16 points for headings.

Line Spacing

  • Use 1.0 or 1.15 line spacing for a clean, readable layout.
  • Ensure consistent spacing before and after headings.


  • Set margins to 1 inch on all sides. This maintains balance and ample white space.
  • You can adjust to 0.5 inches if you need more space, but avoid going smaller.

Dates Format

  • Use a consistent date format throughout. For example, "Jan 2020–Dec 2022."
  • Position dates on the right side of the page to maintain readability.

Section Headings and Layout

  • Use clear, distinct headings such as “Professional Experience,” “Skills,” “Education,” etc.
  • Maintain a logical flow, with your most crucial information (like experience and skills) in the upper half of the resume.
  • Utilize bullet points for responsibilities and achievements to facilitate quick reading. Limit bullet points to 5–6 per job role.

Contact Information

  • Include your name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile at the top of the resume.
  • Consider adding a GitHub profile or portfolio if relevant.

Technical Skills

  • Create a separate “Technical Skills” section to list programming languages, tools, and technologies.

Professional Summary

  • Write a concise professional summary at the top of your resume, highlighting your experience and what you bring to the table in two to three sentences.


Choosing the right resume format and ensuring professional presentation can significantly impact your job-search milestones. For software engineers, aligning your format with your career stage and adhering to professional formatting guidelines is imperative. A well-formatted resume can make you stand out in competitive job markets by clearly showcasing your skills and experience.

Your resume is often your first introduction to potential employers — make it count.

Editorial note: The first draft of this article has been created by AI. It has then undergone a normal editorial process, with our Editor-in-chief, Michael Tomaszewski, a Certified Professional Resume Writer, ensuring the advice in this piece is factually correct, in line with the best resume writing practices, and written in a clear, readable manner.

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