Tips For Resume Formatting

Top 6 Tips For Resume Formatting

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Resumes are still the main “calling card” used by job seekers and there are various schools of thought about the formatting of your document.

Here are a few tips for resume formatting that may help you beat the blank screen blues if you’re creating a new resume from scratch:

1. White Space Is Important

Most resumes have at least a half inch margin, but a full inch is preferable. If your margins are smaller, you risk losing content if the document is printed by the hiring manager. Plus, a resume that lacks a one inch margin is harder for the reader to peruse and may look cluttered or chaotic – two qualities that are not often sought by employers.

2. Don’t Leave Empty Fields

If you’re going to use a template, ensure all of the fields are completed with your personal information. Nothing looks worse than seeing “insert job information here” on a candidate’s resume. The better choice may be to look at a variety of resume formats and combine styles based on your level of experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities.

3. Use Spell Check And Have A Human Edit Your Resume

Spell check is great, but it doesn’t catch all grammatical and typographical errors. It’s helpful to have someone else review your resume. Ask for that person’s feedback on the style of your resume, readability, and content.

4. Cut The Fluff

Your resume should be clear and concise. Almost all people applying to jobs know how to use Microsoft Office programs and e-mail, so there’s no need to have a technical skills section on your resume unless you have skills that set you apart from the competition. There’s also no need to list “references available upon request.” If employers want to check your references, they will ask for them.

5. Be Consistent With Your Style

Keep fonts and font sizes the same throughout the document. You should also consider using a similar heading on all pages of the document if your resume is more than one page. This is a good precaution in case the pages become separated.

6. Determine If Your Page Length Is Appropriate

Most resumes are one to two pages. However, if you have more than 20 years of experience and/or a number of academic or professional publications, your resume may be longer. Keep in mind that a longer resume doesn’t equal more review time by the recruiter or interviewer. Your most important information should still be at the top of page one.

Resumes are not static documents, so even if you think you’re finished with crafting a great one, you will want to revise it slightly for each job description you are applying for and add to it as you obtain more experience.

Since more and more recruiters are using social media, you will also want to update your LinkedIn profile to match your new resume.


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4 comments

  1. Great recommendations Amanda. Apart from having consistent fonts and text sizes, I think it is important to have a consistent vertical alignment. Having a mix of tab stops and spaces can ruin a resume’s appearance. Also, I think it is best to use a pre-designed resume template if possible.

  2. I have to disagree with Josh about video resumes…having been a hiring manager for Fortune 500 companies in technical and marketing capacities for 25+ years, the video resume easily works against most candidates for a variety of reasons. Video resumes are a distraction from skills, knowledge, experience, and accomplishments–the criteria you want to be evaluated on–not your looks or physical appearance. As for “showing off” communication skills, personality, etc., that’s easily recognized as a controlled environment in which you are “selling” yourself. Hiring managers nearly ALWAYS prefer the live interview and your responses to behavioral interview techniques or demonstrations of your ability.

    Watch the “Impossible is Nothing” (video resume) on YouTube to see how you can ruin your career before it even starts by using video resume. Avoid making this mistake.

  3. Creating and updating your resume can certainly stump even the most creative individuals. Your first tip is by far the most overlooked by job seekers. White space makes navigating and reading a resume much easier on the eyes. The less white space a resume has, the more it looks like it’s overflowing with unnecessary copy. Job seekers should make their resume as clear and concise as possible. This also adds to the readability level of the document. Most importantly, your resume should be reviewed by several friends, family members, or networking contacts before sending it out. Errors are never acceptable!

  4. These are all great tips on how to really impress employers with your resume. As you said, resumes are a fluid document that can and should be changed often to reflect your work experience and the job you’re applying for. Another idea is to record a video resume to back up your more traditional resume. On video you can show off your communication skills, personality, and passion for the job.

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