I’ve been working with a ton of job seekers since early March – the start of the pandemic, through HIRED, our job search accelerator program, and I have to tell you it is so clear to me how difficult it is to be your own resume editor.
Nobody’s resume is done on the first try. Resume writing is a process writing task that you’re constantly improving on. Getting feedback on this document can really help you take it to the next level.
Today, I want to give you a few quick boss tips on how to style your resume with some formatting fundamentals to keep in mind for your modern-day job search.
Snag a Snazzy Template
First and foremost, I recommend working off of a template. Resume templates take a lot of the design guesswork out of it for you. There are so many great options for where you can find resume templates, including:
- Google Docs
- Microsoft Word
- CanvaYou’ll want to look for a template that matches the tone of both your target employers and you. For example, if you are a modern and edgy marketing maven who is looking to join a startup environment, you might go for a certain kind of aesthetic. Or if you’re like one of my clients, Claudia, who is more of a traditionalist. She’s going for a more traditional tone.
If you’re applying to Facebook, or Indeed, or any tech companies, you probably don’t want to go with the Times New Roman classic style resume format. It’s not going to work. Start from a template that more or less matches the layout and the tone of your audience and your own brand that you’re developing for yourself.
Embrace the Magic of Margins
Do not make anyone read all the way across the page. Think about your resume as a piece of marketing collateral and you are the product that it’s selling through your resume. If you think about a marketing flyer, it is extremely unusual that you will see any marketing collateral that has text in a sentence going from one end of the page to the other.
Don’t let your resume just default to a letter style format. You’re going to benefit greatly and make it easier on everyone eyes, if you opt for a two-column template. I would say 95% of my clients put the bulk of their work experience in bullet points describing skills and experiences on the left taking up about 75% of the page, maybe 80%. Then on the right, there’s a right-hand column where they’ve highlighted skills, education, or talents, hobbies, technical skills, or anything you want to call special.
There’s no single way to do this correctly. The moral of the story is you’re creating two columns so that the eye doesn’t have to cross the entire page. Most of the time, people just drop off your resume because it seems like your sentences are too long, but really its might just be the way you’ve laid out the text.
Let there be White Space
When it comes to the visual layout of your resume, research tells us that incorporating more white space between paragraphs – and in the left and right margins, can increase comprehension by almost 20%. Readers find it easier to focus on and process generously spaced content.
Be sure to incorporate white space by making sure that margins are at least one inch on all sides of your page. You’ll also want to default to left-align your resume. The human eye processes information from left to right, so lean into that.
I’m a big fan of bullet points as a way to break up a big chunk of information. And also remember to stay consistent with your margins and spacing throughout your entire resume. If you’re one of those people who’s really concerned about keeping your resume to one page that you make your margins a third of an inch, you get rid of all your paragraph spaces, and you make your font size 9 just to keep it all in one page, stop doing that.
I recently got an email from zety.com, which analyzed over 133,000 resumes and found that recruiters are twice as likely to pick a two-page resume as opposed to a one-page resume, even for entry-level positions. It blew my mind that they’re 2.9 times more likely to do that for managerial roles and 1.4 times more likely to opt for a two-page resume for an entry-level job.
So even if you’re a college senior and you’ve been told to keep it to one-page, the details on that are changing. Don’t try to cram all of your key information that belongs on your resume into one page at the cost of white space because it’s important for comprehension.
Embrace a Font Hierarchy
My final boss tip for you is to focus on having a clear font hierarchy to give your document a sense of order. Whenever you’re looking at any website, you’ll notice that the headline text and even maybe a subtitle text is never the same size, weight, or font than the paragraph text that what you read.
For example, check out our job search guide. You’ll notice that we break the sections up by headers and sub-headers that are clearly bigger than the body text, which we try to keep super clean, clear, and easy to read with high contrast – meaning the color of the font. The text itself is very different than the background color behind it so that you can read it.
Clearly, your resume is no different. You want to make sure that people’s eyes know what is most important. If you’re using the same font in the same size and the same weight throughout your resume, there’s no clear delineation to differentiate different pieces of information.
Say you’ve got your job title, followed by the employer, followed by a bunch of bullet points describing what you did in that position, you want to make sure that your job title and your employer are different in terms of their fonts from the rest of the bullet points describing the role that you played. You want to make sure they’re not just different in a meaningless way.
If you’re going for a cohesive look and feel that doesn’t mean you have to use the same font for the entire resume. You can use one kind of pretty font for your headlines and a more simple pared-back, easy-to-read minimalist font for your body text.
This article originally appeared on BossedUp.