When creating your resume, there are simple formats that most people follow to produce a good-looking resume. Aside from the formatting basics, some small touches can increase the appeal of your resume to recruiters and make it stand out more from other people’s documents.
When most recruiters look at a resume, it’s in the context of looking at a collection of dozens or perhaps even hundreds of them, so anything that you can use to gain an edge over your competitors, even if it’s in the subtle details, can help you.
Start with the paper your resume is printed on. Is it laser printer or white copy paper? While it may look formal and normal to print on plain white paper, your resume won’t stand out that way. Instead, consider using a special paper stock that isn’t white, such as off-white, cream, pink or pale yellow stock.
Beyond paper, there are some techniques you can use to make your resume format look sharper and more distinctive while also making it easier to read. The easier it is to read, the more likely recruiters will spend time looking at it and digesting it. The longer they spend looking at your resume, the better your chances are of being short-listed for a job. “Easy to read” means keeping your type sizes at 10 point or above. It can also mean using sans-serif fonts such as Helvetica and Arial instead of serif fonts such as Times Roman or Garamond.
Another tip is to keep all the copy in your resume in the same font. It’s fine to make titles bold or perhaps to italicize some type or both, but mixing different typefaces makes things harder to read. You could try experimenting with mixing slightly different sizes of the same font for headlines and body copy, but don’t use radically different sizes; try to keep them within two or three points of each other. The key to a good resume format is consistency; if you make one of the headlines bold, you should make all the headlines bold. If you italicize the name of one employer, you should italicize all of them. Recruiters and hiring managers like to see consistency; it’s one of the hallmarks of good design, and it sends an unconscious message that you’ll bring consistency to the job for which you’re applying.
One of the most professional things you can incorporate in your resume format is white space. White space around your paragraphs and between lines of type will make your resume format more readable, and it will bring it a more professional look. The key is to use just the right amount of it: not too much and not too little. Hold your resume a good distance away from your face and squint your eyes a little. Does it look balanced and aesthetically pleasing? Try to leave at least a.75- to 1-inch border around all sides of the text for good readability. Studies show that most recruiters look at your resume for an average of six seconds before deciding whether to discard it or set it aside for further perusal. The better your resume format looks in those six seconds, the better shot you’ll have at the job to which you’re applying.
When formatting your resume, you may find some of the tricks and tips on LiveCareer useful. You can find a number of examples of resumes that follow the above guidelines.