Surefire resumes and cover letters are reader-friendly.
This chapter discusses such readability factors as appearance, organizational format, delivery format, page-length, and elimination of typos and misspellings.
A study by the former Career Masters Institute (now Career Management Alliance) ranks easy readability highest of all resume characteristics in terms of first impressions. The employers surveyed ranked use of bullets second highest.
Use the following to make your documents reader-friendly:
- Bullets in resumes (and sometimes in cover letters).
- White space. Make sure your documents have reasonable margins. In my opinion, the default margins in Microsoft Word are wider than they need to be (1.25″ on the left and right and 1″ at the top and bottom). Margins can be as narrow as .75″ if needed. Randall uses the “thumb test.” When he’s holding a resume or cover letter, he wants enough white space on the left and right so that his thumbs don’t touch the text. Of course, he has big thumbs, so 1″ left and right margins suit him better. Also make sure you have a line of space between all the jobs listed on your resume and between all resume sections. For cover letters, equalize the white space at the top and bottom of the letter so that it is centered vertically on the page.
- Type large enough to read (no smaller than 10.5 point).
- Appearance. The first impression of your resume — and of you as a job-seeker — comes from your resume’s appearance. Your resume should be well-organized with consistent headings, fonts, bullets, and style. Never overcrowd the resume. Leave some “white space” so that important points can stand out; and try to make your margins between .75″ and 1″ on all sides. For print resumes, use subdued color paper, such as white, ivory, beige, light gray.