What Are the Best Tips for Resume Formatting?

Dan Cavallari

An effective resume is essentially an advertisement selling the "product" that is a job applicant. Resume formatting is therefore very important to ensure a potential employer can find information quickly and easily, and all relevant information is presented clearly. This means using high-quality paper, clear fonts, and an easy to read layout that makes logical sense. The key rule to resume formatting is to write a readable document; otherwise employers will not bother to read through the document, even if the job candidate is the most qualified person for the job.

A resume.
A resume.

Avoid using colored papers except for cream or eggshell colors. Brightly colored papers will make the resume stand out among others in a pile, but not necessarily in a good way. Brightly colored papers can make text difficult to read, and they can also advertise to the employer that the job candidate is not serious or professional enough for the job. Resume formatting should be simple, which does not mean it cannot be done with creativity. Simplicity, however, ensures the document is readable, which is the main focus of all resume formatting. Focus on good quality paper and attractive but readable fonts.

A hiring manager looking over a person's resume.
A hiring manager looking over a person's resume.

It is vital that the resume formatting be done with a logical progression in mind. This may mean writing the document chronologically, or it may mean writing items in order of relevance to the job being applied for. Do not be afraid to change the order of the items on the resume to suit the job description for a particular job; the document can always be altered again if the candidate chooses to apply to a different position. Companies will often look for keywords in the document to see if those words match up with the job description; it is always a good idea to get these keywords toward the top of the document.

Use bullets, but make sure to use them correctly. More importantly, make sure your resume formatting contains clear headings so the employer knows what he or she is looking at. Label work experience, career goals, awards and achievements, and so on in a clear font that is bold or slightly larger than the font on the rest of the document. Under each heading, bullets can be used to clearly mark where a new bit of information is being presented. Be careful not to overuse bullets, as they can become sloppy-looking and cumbersome to read.

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