When was the last time you dusted off your resume? I’m guessing when you last applied for a job. It’s true for me too. I coach people in developing a marketable resume and when I last looked at mine I was a bit embarrassed!
The approach I take when helping people strengthen their resume is to focus on layout and then the content. In this post I’m going to list ways to improve the readability of your resume through some formatting suggestions:
- Check the font is modern – Calibri, Verdana, Arial and Tahoma are all good choices. Times New Roman is like stepping into a time machine to the 90s.
- Size of font counts. Not too big and not too small. 11 is good for Calibri. 10 for Verdana, Arial and Tahoma. Print it off and gauge for yourself. You can always go 10.5 or 11.5.
- Line spacing – often Word has in built features that mess with your formatting. For instance putting your spacing at Multiple 1.15, which make everything look too spread out. You can change the spacing back to Single 0 and then add your own line spacing if you need to.
- Let’s talk about colour. Your resume is a business document. Unless you’re a graphic designer, then steer away from colour and fancy graphics in your resume. The hiring decision maker is working out whether you’re a good match for the role, rather than how well you know Canva.
- Personal Details – Include your current mobile and email (landline and home address are optional). Ensure your email address is professional. Don’t use headings, eg. Name: Jo Smith | Mobile: 0400 etc. Oh, need I say it, leave off date of birth and marital status. Please do.
- Avoid using PDF and tables.Some applicant tracking systems (ATS) can’t pick up the key words or phrasing if it’s in these formats.
- Check the length – 8 pages is wayyyyy too long. Aim for 3 to 4 pages. If you can make it shorter that’s great, as long as you’re not missing key information. Employment History really doesn’t need to go back past 10 years (some say 5).
- Bullet points are good for listing your key skills, responsibilities and achievements.
- Tabs can be used for aligning your dates to the right hand margin. I’ve written about how to do it HERE.
- Include page numbers in the footer. You can read about setting this up HERE.
- Avoid putting your personal details in the header where it shows on every page. This can take up a bit of room. If you’re wanting to have your name and mobile on each page, I suggest you include this in the footer.
- Remove the heading “Resume”. Use you name as the heading by making it bigger (16 or 18 font) and in Bold.
Whether you are applying for a job or not, it’s worth spending 30 minutes refreshing the look of your resume from time to time. If it’s pleasing on the eye for the reader it can enhance their experience when reading it and allow them to find information about you easily. A couple of people I’ve helped have come back to me and said their manager was impressed with their resume. A good looking resume does make a difference!