When you’re composing your first resume or updating an existing one, there are basic resume formatting rules you should consider when creating your own document. These formatting guidelines make it easier for recruiters to quickly review your information, and your adherence to these rules may dictate whether or not you receive full consideration for the position.
Format Your Personal/Contact Information Section
The one component of resumes that varies the least is the personal/contact info section. Using a larger font, place your name at the top-center of your resume. On the next line, continuing in the center of the page, include a professional email address, and follow that with a phone number that is formatted clearly, e.g., “(702) 555-2085.” While resume formatting rules don’t require you to include your home address, you may want to provide your city and state of residence if you’re applying for a job nearby. Make sure the information presented in this section is accurate; any mistakes or eyesores may hurt your chances of landing the position.
Choose the Appropriate Format Based on Your Experience
Most people use a chronological resume format when following basic resume formatting rules. This layout is ideal for a resume when you already have significant experience within a related profession or when you have a fairly unbroken work history. A chronological resume format may also chart your progress within your field over time, which can impress hiring managers who value work ethic and competence. To use this format, begin by listing your most recent position and work backwards from there. Under each item in your experience, include the position name, the company/organization as well as its location, the dates of employment, and, last but certainly not least, about 5-8 of your duties and achievements while at the job. Do not include the hours you worked, salaries you received, or the contact information of your previous supervisors. Use the past tense when describing your previous work experience, and use the present tense if you’re talking about a job you currently hold.
A chronological experience section may start off as follows:
Teacher, Spring Valley High School
- Devise and implement core language arts curricula for grades 9-10
- Instruct two Advanced Placement English courses with majority pass rates
- Increase standardized test scores in English
- Head of English department
Be Mindful of the Six-Second Rule
Studies show that the average recruiter scans through a resume within six seconds before committing it to a “Short List” or “Discard” pile. No matter how impressive your content may be, a visually unappealing resume or a format that doesn’t conform to what a recruiter or hiring manager is expecting could prevent your resume from being successful. Therefore, it’s important to follow standard resume formatting rules when composing your resume, such as using at least 10-point font when constructing your document and limiting your content to one page per 10 years of experience.
Properly Format Your Skills/Areas of Expertise Section
A skills/areas of expertise section is an excellent way to convey a diversity of strong skills that qualify you for the job. If you include this section, be sure to format your skills in a table format. Use about 3-8 entries per column in a table, and limit skills to brief, effective phrases, e.g. “Accurate Bookkeeping.” Keep in mind that only skills that are relevant to the job for which you’re applying should be included.
When you begin working on the content of your resume, you may appreciate the tips and other resume formatting rules found on LiveCareer.