When applying for a new job, there are a number of general resume formatting guidelines you should always pay attention to. These guidelines will help you stand out from the dozens, if not hundreds, of other applicants attracted by a certain position.
Include Contact Information
Make sure you include your contact information somewhere on the resume, usually at the top of the page. This includes your full name, one professional email address that is not associated with your current job, one phone number, and the city and state of your residence. If you have a website, include the URL. It’s important for you to include ways for managers and recruiters to get in touch with you and learn more about you should they like what they read.
Start off Strong with a Resume Summary Statement
The summary statement is essential to good resume formatting as a well-written one will encourage the hiring manager to read on. The average hiring personnel spends just a few seconds on individual resumes, and objective statements are liable to be quite similar to one another, leaving you little chance to stand out and capture the reader’s attention. This is partly why the objective statement, which used to come after the contact information, has fallen out of favor. The summary does not state the obvious fact that you are interested to get the job; it immediately goes into what you have to offer in terms of experience, skills and personality traits. Write a succinct, four-to-six-line paragraph summary in place of an objective in order to put your greatest strengths at the fore of your resume.
Know When to Use Fragments and Bullet Points
For the summary statement, resume formatting rules dictate that you write without using first-person pronouns. This results in readable fragments, e.g. “Financial advisor with more than 10 years of professional experience.” Take this approach to the other parts of the resume, and outside the summary statement, use bullet points as appropriate. For instance, after each job position in the experience section, give a bulleted list between four and eight items detailing your duties, responsibilities and special accomplishments while at that job. In the education section, use bullet points to show off any relevant coursework you took, any extracurricular activities you were involved in and any awards you received.
List Jobs in Reverse Chronological Order
List your work experiences in reverse chronological order. This means your current or most recent job should go first, and your oldest one should go last. Some applicants leave off any jobs that are older than 15 to 20 years while others include them in their resumes but mention them in only one-line descriptions. Your resume formatting should put your job information in the order that it’s likely to matter most to a reader. Most managers and recruiters care about what you did at a job, so the title or position should go first, followed by the name of your employer, the location of your company and the dates of employment.
Know What Not to Include
Do not include personal information such as your age, sex, race, religion and political persuasion. Next, but less controversial, is your list of references. The employer may ask for references during the interview, so do not give them in your resume or even write, “References Available upon Request,” because this just takes up space. Lastly, do not give a reason why you left a particular job, and do not explain gaps in your employment history. Discussions of this nature should be left for the interview.
When formatting your resume, you may find the tips and suggestions on LiveCareer useful regardless of the job or industry to which you are applying.