4 Top Resume Format Tips

4 Top Resume Format Tips

Contrary to popular belief, effective resume formats are not unique and creative; they are simply professional. It’s all about following that old acronym that we’ve heard time and time again – KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).

Outlining what makes you unique, is an important step to succeeding in the job search process. However, the key principle is to ensure that YOU are unique. A fun and colourful resume may stand out in the pile, but it will have the hiring manager focusing on the colours and graphics, rather than the information. Your goal is to ensure that your content is original and tells the hiring manager that there is no one better out there for this position, than you.

So when it comes to resume formatting, you want the content to shine through, and not the design. The design is simply there to help guide the hiring manager’s eyes as they scan through the page. We’ve broken down the four most important factors in resume formatting, and how to excel at each one.

Design

The design element of your resume format is generally where most people go too far, or not far enough. As we’ve already mentioned, you don’t want to overwhelm the reader with bright colours, graphics, and pictures, but you also don’t want to underwhelm the reader. With a vast majority of positions nowadays, computer skills are a must, and your resume is also telling the hiring manager just how technically proficient you are.

If your resume is simply words typed up on a page with a few bolded titles and some italicized phrases, you are telling the hiring manager that you don’t know how to get any fancier than this. Your design format should include a formal header, along with line breaks between sections to guide the hiring manager’s eyes through the document. Bullet points should be used, but stick to the basic solid circles and veer away from the stars. Finally, use tables or columns when listed keywords and technical skills. Separating lists into two or three columns ensures you are effectively using the white space on your resume.

Font

There are two elements to font that are important in resume formatting – style and size. If you are struggling to keep all of your information to two pages and decide to decrease your font size to anything below 10 pt., your resume will not be reviewed by a majority of hiring managers who open it. How often do you bother reading the fine print on documents or labels? Pretty much never, because people just don’t like squinting and struggling to read.

When it comes to font style, our rules aren’t so strict – as long as you have some common sense. For example, avoid fonts written in cursive writing, cartoon-style lettering, and symbols. Focus on fonts that are easy on the eyes, and easy to follow. Formal fonts such as Palatino Linotype and Cambria are popular options, as well as informal fonts such as Arial and Verdana. The choice is yours!

Sections

Every resume should have four main sections. Your resume should open with a value statement introducing who you are and what you have to offer, followed by an areas of expertise section to show your keyword skills that are directly related to the role. If you peaked the hiring manager’s interest with this strong opening, they will continue to read.

Depending on your level of experience, the next suitable section would be the professional experience section. Here, you should outline each role you’ve held over the past 10 years along with the achievements from each position. Education is generally left to the bottom of the resume, unless you are a student in which case it would take the place of professional experience.

These are the four most important, however different job seekers are required to include different information. Other sections could include volunteer experience, internships, and technical skills.

Length

When putting together each of those sections, you must keep an eye on how long your resume is getting. It is true that some hiring managers prefer one page resumes, and it is also true that some hiring managers don’t mind reading resumes with more than two pages. However, one resume will never please every single hiring manager that reads it. So we recommend sticking to the safest length, which is two pages or less. If you can’t please them all, at least you can please most of them.

If you’re having problems visualizing what a professional format should look like, there are millions of examples on the web. Peruse the Resume Samples on our site, and you may even consider getting a template to make your life just a bit easier.

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Comment (1)

  • G. Bosonetto Reply

    Great tips for effective resumes; one way a current student or recent graduate can strengthen his/her resume is to put ‘volunteer/internship/unpaid’ experience under Relevant Experience (rather than Professional Experience, and targeted at the specific job being applied for) and list those other things that contribute to effective work skills and ethic, such as babysitting, flipping burgers, sports and even travel, under Additional (or Other) Experience.
    For grad school applications, Academic Accomplishments, such as scholarships, research, and presentations, may take priority over ‘Professional/Related Experience,’ along with Education.

    March 9, 2015 at 6:23 pm

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