You’ve taken the time to outline your resume and you have plenty of excellent content. Now what? You need to put that content into a legible, smooth format that will catch the eye of your potential employer. This section will review why formatting is important and a few things to think about to format your resume better.
Why bother with formatting?
Formatting is the second most important consideration on your resume. The first being what you actually write down. Formatting your resume the right way can speak volumes about who you are as an employee and helps make life easier for your recruiter.
Clean formatting shows that you are organized and methodical. Any one hiring for a position that requires attention to detail will be able to see immediately that you have an eye for detail if they see that your resume is well structured.
Additionally, recruiters review many resumes a day. One of the best things you can do is keep your resume organized so you can help them find the information you want them to see most easily. If you want them to know about your years of relevant work experience, it will be easier for them to find at the top of your resume than at the bottom.
What does good formatting look like?
Good formatting, like many arts, changes depending on what you want to convey. If you are a student and don’t have much work experience, it wouldn’t make sense to put that section up front. If you have been out of school for 10 years, it wouldn’t make sense to put your degrees front and center. So what general guidelines can you follow to get a head start on formatting?
- Keep ’em separated – Group your work experiences together, group your school experiences together, and group other activities or awards separately as well. You want to have easy to recognize ‘sections’ on your resume. If someone is looking for your work history, it should be easy to find.
- Order by date and relevance – In each section you should list experiences from most recent to least recent. Usually what you were doing a month ago is more relevant than what you were doing five years ago. This also applies to whole sections. As mentioned earlier, if you are recently graduated and have a limited work history, your education is your biggest asset and should be at the top.
- Be consistent – An excellent way to improve the readability of your resume is to be consistent in your fonts, spacing, even bullet points. Using the same font across sections helps unify your resume and make it look cohesive and well thought-out.
There is a lot of thought and effort that can go into formatting, and a quick refresh on your resume’s format may be all you need to get the interview. What tweaks have you made to your resume format that got results? Let me know in the comments!