Resume Formatting The Right Way

Resume formatting is one thing that many people do not pay enough attention to. Employers often spend seconds on reviewing resume, so you have to make sure that those seconds are used to review your skills and qualifications, rather than your intricate resume formatting. Although, unique resume presentation have their place in many industries, in many cases resume formatting and design should be kept basic and clean. Remember this basic tip- “the best resume design is the one that doesn’t affect your message, and your message in the the thing you want the readers to pay attention to. The resume look and feel should compliment your message, and not detract from it.”

  • Templates: Don’t just enter your information into a template that you found in Microsoft Word or on the internet. Write the content first and then apply your own formatting in a way that emphasizes what you’ve done (as opposed to where or when).
  • Font: Use a professional-looking san serif font. Do NOT use frilly fonts, colored paper, photos, etc. Use only one or maybe two styles of font. If the employer has to strain to read your resume, they probably won’t read it at all.
  • Your Name: Make your name bigger than the rest of the information on your resume (18-22 point font). When an employer is going through a stack of printed resumes, your name should stand out.
  • Ordering: You can order the sections in whatever way makes the most sense. Put the most important sections at the top of your resume. If you have little or no work experience in the field, make sure that your educational experience (or whatever else that’s relevant) is listed first. Also, within each section dates should be in reverse chronological order – in other words, the most recent events should be listed first.
  • Spacing: Make your resume easy to read by using 0.8 – 1.0 inch margins, clear headings, and space between sections. There shouldn’t be any huge white spaces on the page, and it shouldn’t look cramped either.
  • Scanability: Be consistent with formatting. The first person at the company to read your resume will likely spend only about 15 seconds reading it, so it should be easy to read quickly, and the most important information (what you have done) should stand out. Particularly, the names of degrees & job titles should stand out with bold formatting – usually, what you did is more important than where you did it!
  • One Page Rule: Unless you have 10+ years of experience, keep your resume on one page.
  • Verb Tense: Jobs and other activities that you are still doing should be discussed in the present tense. Anything that happened in the past should be in the past tense.
  • Document Name: When saving your resume, use your full name and the word “resume”. For example: “Jane_Doe_Resume.doc” – don’t just name it “Resume.doc.”

Last Updated September 22, 2017