Are you making these three formatting mistakes with your resume? Find out how to craft a resume that shines!
Take a moment to imagine what your prospective employer will go through during the hiring process. With an average of 118 applications —23 who will land an interview—for every single job posted, the task of singling out the cream of the crop is a daunting one. That's where you come in.
Your goal, as a job applicant, is to polish and shine your resume until it all but leaps out to employers, begging them to pick it up for a closer look. One of the quickest ways to not accomplish this is to present a resume with these resume formatting mistakes.
1. Spelling and grammar mistakes
With the prevalence of spelling and grammar checks in almost every word processing program out there right now, error-free resumes are easy to create. What they don't always get, however, are contextual errors.
Once you've completed a spelling and grammar check, go through your resume to find potential errors, such as:
- You're and your
- Their, there, and they're
- From and form
- Omission of articles, such as "the," "a," and "an"
- Synonyms, such as "discrete" and "discreet," or "principal" and "principle"
- Words with one letter left out: short and sort
For an extra level of protection, consider employing the services of a resume review professional to ensure none of those errors missed by word processing programs remain in your work.
The key to an excellent resume is to proofread and then proofread again. Spelling and grammar mistakes are among the most common resume formatting mistakes and are also easiest to spot, eliminating you from the job pool in seconds.
2. Fancy or gimmicky fonts or graphics
Unless you're highlighting your superior abilities as a graphic designer, flashy designs and multiple font colors should be left out of your resume. You're trying to sell yourself as a professional, so the general rule is to keep things simple, clean, and uncluttered. Stick to basic black for your font color.
Solution 1: Consistent Fonts
Choose one or two fonts and use those consistently throughout your resume. You may want a slightly larger, bolded font for section headers and a basic font, such as Arial or Times New Roman, for the body of your resume.
Solution 2: Consistent Sizing
Use italics or bold to emphasize words or points in your resume, rather than changing the size of your font, which can make things difficult to read. You can use two or three sizes, such as a smaller size for your contact information, a larger size for section headers, and a basic size of 8 to 10 for your body. Again, remain consistent throughout your resume.
3. Text that's difficult to scan
If we try to go back into our prospective employer's head, reading nearly 120 resumes, we might discover that readability is the single most important aspect of resume formatting. Short, powerful paragraphs, clear headers, and bullet points when appropriate will break up the text of your resume and make it easier to scan.
Solution 1: Use Paragraphs
Paragraphs should be used sparsely in a resume. When you do use them, make them short and to the point, at no more than three sentences. Choose your words carefully and refrain from being too wordy. Double space, which means entering two line breaks, between each paragraph so there's an empty line between them.
Solution 2: Use Headers
Begin each section of your resume with a header to explain what the following text is about and to break up each section into easy-to-manage pieces. Examples include:
- Objective or Title
- Associations and Awards
Solution 3: Use Bullet Points
Bullet points are an excellent way to break up text and convey your message in the briefest way possible. Bullet points are particularly appropriate for sections like your skills summary.
Having a grammatically perfect resume and avoiding these common resume formatting mistakes will give you an edge in this competitive job market and a chance to be among the 20 percent that makes it from applying to interviewing. If you need help getting started, check out these expert resume examples for some inspiration. Happy job hunting!