How a resume looks and feels can be just as important as what it says. A job seeker can be the most qualified person in the resume pile, with a resume directly targeted to the specific job with plenty of real-world examples of accomplishments and still not even get called for an interview if layout isn’t considered. The best-qualified candidates can be dismissed to the dustbin for sending resumes with poor grammar, weird font choices, misspellings, wall-to-wall blocks of text and other common resume violations. When you feel you’re ready to write the best resume and your information is organized and ready to be put to paper, pay close attention to these tips about proper resume layout and design.
White Space is Crucial
We are a visual society that gravitates toward anything that is pleasing to the eye. Clutter is not pleasing. Resume readers who see huge, intimidating blocks of text that run from margin to margin will be resistant to reading further. Instead of using paragraphs, use short bullet lists outlining your achievements and past duties. This creates white space, which is essentially ‘breathing room” for the eye and makes it much easier to read and digest your resume.
The One-Page Rule is a Myth
There truly is no all-encompassing rule for resume length. Consider the traditional wisdom that says under no circumstances should a resume pass one page in length. For experienced professionals, keeping to one page is a sure way to break the “white space” rule. Sacrificing white space for length is not the way to go. If you are a veteran worker with a lot of experience and many jobs over the years, don’t feel compelled to cram it all onto one page. Use two or even three judiciously. That being said, brevity is important as well. Don’t go over one page just because you can. If you’re not sure whether you really need more than one page, have someone read your resume and get their opinion
Use Professional Fonts
A resume is a piece of business communications and should mirror the memos and other paperwork one would normally see in an office environment. Stick to standard fonts like Calibri, Times New Roman, Tahoma etc. Anyone with common sense can look at a font and decide whether it’s professional or not. Weird fonts will definitely make you stand out, but not in a good way.
Evaluate your Choice of Paper
If you are sending a physical copy of your resume by post, consider paper choice. There is such a thing as paper that is too good for a resume just as there is paper that’s not good enough. Office supply stores make a tidy profit peddling too-fancy “resume paper” designed to look like parchment or other gaudy, attention-grabbing styles. Just as you shouldn’t go to the job interview in a tuxedo, you shouldn’t go overboard on paper. Higher-quality white or slightly off-white paper is the perfect choice. Remember that you can go too cheap with paper, too. Thin “onion skin” paper or low-quality copier grade paper pinched from the office will do you no favours.
Use a Laser Printer
Neatness is vital. No matter how careful you may be, inkjet printers can smear easily. Even if you manage to get an inkjet-printed resume in the envelope without smudging your words, the recipient might not be so careful. Just about everyone has access to a quality laser printer. Family, friends and office supply stores are all great sources for one-off printouts on a good printer. While you’re printing your C.V. on that laser printer, print an envelope. Why go through the trouble of buying nice paper and using a laser printer if you’re going to shove it into a hand-scrawled envelope?
Don’t just rely on spell-check to verify that your resume is ready to be seen. It may not catch all grammar errors and it certainly won’t flag words that were spelled correctly but used wrong. Proofread your work carefully for errors. Keep in mind that because you wrote it, you know what it’s going to say, so you might still miss mistakes. With this in mind, find a friend and have them proofread as well. This resume is your only chance to get an interview, so don’t let a few miswritten words sink your efforts.
Have you chosen the correct type of resume for your situation? The two major resume types are chronological and functional. It’s important to know when to use which type. A chronological resume stresses experience, past job duties and achievements. It should be used by experienced professionals. A functional resume puts the emphasis more on basic abilities that are transferable from one job type to another. This type of resume is more helpful for workers with less experience or for job seekers looking to change careers. Use the correct resume templates type to avoid short-changing yourself.