By now, as a seasoned job hunter you should know there are a few essentials you should have in your arsenal: business cards, a solid cover letter, your elevator pitch, and your well-formatted resume.
In this article, we’re going to take you to the next step and focus specifically on one seemingly small but massively huge part of resume building: resume format and how to select which one is right for you.
If you follow this guide, that breath of fresh air resume is going to be yours! But first, we need to figure out what type of resume format you need.
Types of Resume Formats: Chronological Resume Format • Functional Resume Format • Combination Resume Format
Best practices for formatting your Resume
Now that we’ve gone over different resume formats, it’s time to go over formatting the resume format (?) you have selected. Tongue twisters and confusing sentences aside, let’s start with the basics!
How long should a Resume be?
No matter which of the three formats you decide to go with, it should fit neatly onto 1-2 pages.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, and in some (rare) cases (career changes, highly advanced technical fields, or individuals at the senior/executive level), a slightly longer resume is acceptable.
Keep in mind this isn’t your autobiography! This is meant to give a hiring manager just enough information about you that they feel compelled to call you in and meet you face to face!
Best fonts to use
Choosing the right font can seem like an impossible task, especially as there are hundreds of choices available. Making sure your resume is readable is step number one.
Many companies these days use an automated applicant tracking software to first pre-qualify candidates and the last thing you want to do is get sorted to the bottom of the pile, or worse, rejected, because the computer program didn’t recognize your font or had difficulty reading it.
Stick to fonts like Arial, Verdana, Trebuchet MS, Century Gothic, Gill Sans MT (but NEVER Comic Sans), Lucida Sans and Tahoma.
Another thing to keep in mind with fonts is the size you’re using. Try to stay between 10.5 and 12 points. Any smaller and it’s hard to read.
Formatting your margins and spacing
When you format your resume you want to make sure that your leave enough margin space to allow for printing. The general rule is to set your margins at one inch on all sides.
Think of your resume as a piece of fine artwork. Your margins should create a beautiful frame around it. If you’re truly desperate for space, you can slightly adjust your top and bottom margins but try to avoid adjusting your side margins.
In terms of the spacing, keep your resume to single-spaced with a blank line between each section of your content.
When you turn a resume into a potential employer, you want to make sure you’re using paper that helps convey the message that you’re a professional.
Of course, if you’re using an online submission system, you don’t get to choose what sort of paper an employer might potentially print your resume out on, but in the instances when you’re physically turning something in, it’s a good idea to put some extra time and thought into the paper you’re using.
Try to always print your resumes out using a laser printer or inkjet printer that produces crisp, high-quality results. You want to print on paper heavier than what you traditionally find in photocopiers.
Generally copier paper is considered 20 lb. weight.
When selecting the color of paper you’re using, it’s always a safe bet to stick to white or neutrals. Off-white, cream, ivory and light gray are acceptable for most professional jobs.
Finally, make sure you’re always using 8 ½ x 11 paper.
Which Resume categories do I include?
Organizing your resume is just as important as formatting it. Many resumes are put together by job seekers who aren’t sure of how to organize their information, resulting in a resume that lacks focus.
You always want to make sure that your categories are well defined and organized appropriately for not only who you are, but the type of resume that you’re using (don’t worry, we’ll go into that further in just a bit!).
Here are the main categories that you need to include on your resume: Header • Resume Summary Statement • Experience/Qualifications • Skills & Abilities • Education
TIP: A quick note on GPA – it’s okay to include it on your resume (but not necessarily encouraged.)
Common Mistakes to Avoid: Spelling and Grammar Mistakes (and Typos) • Not Targeting Your Resume • Rambling • Personal Information • Salary Information.
A few more details can be found in this article.
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