by Rachel Cunningham
Editing resumes is one of my favorite hobbies because I love helping people transform their resumes into something they are proud of. There are plenty of articles out there telling you the "do's and dont's" of resume writing, but frankly they all contradict each other. I'm not claiming to be the right one, but I do have experience in the job-hunting/resume-editing world that might give you a good balance among all of these opinions.
Format your resume so it is easy to read.
I know formatting might seem like the LEAST important part of your resume, but for an employer, this actually is the first thing they notice. If your fonts are all different sizes (without some continuity), your spacing is inconsistent, and it literally looks like you copied and pasted your old job description onto your document (YES this has happened), employers are less likely to be impressed with your content. Bad formatting is distracting, and also implies that you lack attention to detail, and possibly implies you aren't "proficient in Microsoft Word" like your resume claims.
Basic resume formatting tips:
- Do your best to make your resume no more than one page long. If you are applying for a "C-level" (CEO, CFO, etc) or managerial position and have a TON of experience, then this is definitely flexible. Use your discretion.
- Use bold/underlining for titles and sections to help guide the employer's eyes to important sections.
- Use horizontal lines to separate sections if you have room (this can be found in the Format tab on the top of MS Word...google it)
- Take advantage of white space. Too cluttered = intimidating
- Use one font for the whole document and don't change sizes for titles and sections unless you can do it for all of them. Continuity is key.
- Don't use a font that is funky. Ever. Stick to a classic Times New Roman, Arial, or Helvetica.
- Don't use too small of a font. Don't make it too big to take up space either. Use white space if needed.
- Make sure your indents are all the same so there is a clean vertical line.
- Margins should be 1 inch all the way around, or at least uniform.
- Using colored ink is debatable, but if you are going to use it, make sure it is legible and only use colors as an accent. Your main text should always be black.
- Use nice paper if you are turning in a hard copy. Office supply stores sell "resume paper." Use it!
- Make your cover letters, references, and writing samples, etc. the same format/font as your resume. Continuity!
- Too much space between lines in a paragraph can be distracting, so make sure sections are well-compacted so your reader knows what belongs where.
For more resume tips, check out our other resume blogs: Highlighting Skills on a Resume & Describing Skills Effectively on a Resume.