It seems obvious, that a resume needs to be easily read, but the majority of people do not format their resumes correctly.
There are a few methods that you should utilize to ensure that your resume is both visually pleasing, and professionally formatted.
Use caution with resume templates
There are many resume templates for Word or other computer programs that appear to make the process of resume writing easier. Unfortunately, most of these templates are less than optimal.
One reason that the resume templates are not ideal is that they typically do not maximize space, which causes you to end up with a resume that has an overwhelming amount of white space. It is true that you don’t want your resume to appear cluttered, but you also want every line and space on your resume to count.
Another reason not to use resume templates is that the templates are difficult to modify. Usually, the templates are set up to have the dates of employment appear as the first items on the left. However, the dates are the least important piece of the job entry and should be placed on the right side of the resume. It is practically impossible to rearrange the cells of the template to make the employment dates appear on the right.
You don’t want to have an overabundance of white space on your resume, or your resume will end up being 4 or 5-pages long. On the other hand, too little white space, makes everything looked jammed together, and is difficult to read. It is acceptable to expand the margins to maximize the use of space, but you should never allow the margins to be less than 0.75″. It is also a good idea to break up the different section and the different jobs with a line of white space. This white space makes the resume more visually appealing, carries the reader to the next point, as well as give the reader’s eyes a break.
There is no specific font type that should be used on a resume, but the serif fonts are typically some of the easiest fonts to read, while creating a professional look. The following font choices are good stand-byes:
Times New Roman
Goudy Old Style
Every font looks a little different, so it will be necessary to adjust the font size according to the font style. In most cases, a font size larger than 12-point is too large, and smaller than 9-point is too small, but if you are not sure, pick the font size that you feel looks appropriate, then print a copy and allow a few people to read it. People will let you know if the font size isn’t working, and you will be able to change it before you give it to any potential employers.
Use italics, underlining, and bold to make items on your resume stand out. Your job titles can be bold, company names can be underlined, and a description of the company that you worked for or accounts that you worked with can be italicized. How you denote the specific pieces of information is really a matter of your personal preference, but you need to make sure that you are consistent throughout the entire resume. You also want to be careful to not overdo the bold, underline, and italics, or it will be a chaotic read for your potential employers.
Stay Away From
Awkward layouts, gimmicks, and fancy paper. A laminated resume on hot pink paper with glitter tell recruiters that there is little substance in the content of the resume. You should print your resume on a quality paper in a modest shade, like white, soft gray, light blue, or beige.
The Fifteen-Second Test
To test how easily read your resume is, give it to a friend or coworker to view for only 15 seconds. What does your friend observe? Did your friend take note of the things you were hoping a recruiter would notice? This is a very efficient tool to make sure that you are getting your main points across.