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What Should a Resume Look Like?

Your resume is one of the most important documents you have in your arsenal when applying to an open job or position.  It gives a quick overview of your skills, your current and previous experience, and your education.  Your resume is meant to speak for you and should be a living document that is constantly updated, tweaked, and perfected.

Across the internet, you’ll find a plethora of individuals and businesses giving advice on how a resume should look?  Many of these individuals attempt to sell candidates on their unique formats, brightly colored lines, and random demarcations.  They include graphs, tables, and charts across the page that can leave the candidate and the hiring manager confused.

Resume should look and feel clean.  That’s it, full stop.  They should be easy to read and easy to understand.  The gist of an individual candidate’s experience should be easily digested and understood by the hiring manager quickly.  On average, recruiters look at a potential candidate’s resume for just 6-seconds.  That is why your resume should be easy to read and should fit on one-page.

Resume Font

The best resumes are the one with the cleanest, most easy to read font choice and size.  Your font should be something modern and aesthetically pleasing.  It should be a serious font choice and not one that is overly bold or playful.  In addition, your resume should utilize the same font across the entire page.  You should not switch between different fonts for different areas of your resume.

A few good font choices are Calibri, Cambria, Helvetica, Georgia, and Garamond.  Feel free to play around with these and other fonts and choose the one that appeals most to you.  Feel free to ask your family or friends which one they prefer and the one they find easier to read.

Resume Font Size

Once you’ve decided the resume font you are going to utilize, you’ll need to move onto the font size.  Ideally, your resume font size should be between 10-12 pt.  This size is easy to read and allows you enough room and space to provide additional detail.

If you opt for a font size of 12 pt. but find yourself running out of space on your resume, feel free to lower the size to 11 or 10 pt.  This should provide you with ample room to fill-in additional sections on your resume and remain within the one-page recommendation.

Similarly, if you find that your resume appears incomplete, feel free to increase the font size to 12 pt. to increase the amount of space used.  This one trick will be able to make your resume look more complete.

Spacing

Spacing is nearly as important as the font and font size.  You will want to have spacing between 1-1.5 between lines and utilize double-spacing between sections and headers.  Double spacing should not be used within a single section as it can disorient the structure of your resume and take up too much room.

Clear Headings

Make sure to clearly call-out and convey differing sections.  By conveying the differing sections, you are ensuring that a recruiter or hiring manager won’t confuse your summary within your experience.  You can convey different sections by either bolding the section name or capitalizing the section name.

Resume Length

We’ve discussed in-depth, but to reiterate, resumes should always be less than one-page in length.  As recruiters only look at a resume for 6-seconds on average, they do not have the time to scroll to the next page of your resume.  In addition, as the one-page rule is generally known, many recruiters will find resumes longer than one-page to be unprofessional.

Working with the one-page rule also forces candidates to remove any fluff or unnecessary experiences or language.  What can be said and conveyed in three words is better than using six words.  As your resume is a living document, feel free to write down everything first and then go back and remove what you find unnecessary.

No Photos

Unless you are applying to a position that needs a headshot or a picture of yourself, you should avoid including a picture of yourself on your resume.  Having a photo of yourself takes up valuable real estate which can be used to describe your skills and experiences.

In addition, photos may cause unintended biases.  Though illegal, a recruiter or hiring manager may have a predisposition based off-of your photograph and choose to not extend an interview offer.

No Graphs/Charts/Tables

In recent years, there has been an influx of resumes which include graphs, charts, and tables all showing various skill percentages.  This is unnecessary and takes away from the main focus, you and your experience and skills.  These graphs, charts, and tables are subjective and are not readily understood.  Including them only increases the chances of misunderstanding and confusion.

Space

While you only have one-page to convey your previous experiences and skills, you should leave ample space and “white room” across the page.  You should go for a clean, modern look.  The modern look tends to veer more towards a minimalistic feel and not one that is overly cluttered.  In addition, the white space allows for the resume to be read more easily.

Layout

Your resume layout is important in helping the recruiter or hiring manager to read through your sections.  The resume should flow seamlessly between sections and have some coherence to the format.  You wouldn’t want to begin your resume with your skills, then jump to your education, then to your objective summary, and then to your experience.  Such a format would be difficult to read and understand.

Rather, have your layout be coherent and curated to provide YOUR story.  How would you like your story to be told or read?  Many candidates are beginning to write their resumes in an F-pattern layout.

Skill Section

You should also consider adding a skills section to your resume.  Doing so will allow you to quickly and conveniently highlight your most recent and your most relevant skills.  The skills section should be critical and useful skills and should be curated for the position you are applying for.  Doing so will help the recruiter or hiring manager to see that you have the needed requirements and will be able to handle the tasks of the role.

Keywords

Keywords are another important factor in resume writing.  You should always curate and customize your resume for every job application.  Before applying to a position, peruse the job description and focus on the role requirements.  You should try to incorporate those requirements and keywords into your resume.

With the rise of the applicant tracking system (ATS), many applications are going through a system before reaching the recruiters desk.  These systems look for specific keywords on your resume to ensure an applicant has the necessary and required skills.  If you do not include or incorporate specific keywords in your resume, your resume may not be passing onto the recruiter.

Conclusion

Your resume is a reflection of yourself and your skills and experience.  It should be clean and direct.  Always choose professional fonts and font sizes and ensure that your resume length is under one-page.  Keep your resume free of unnecessary information or fluff and do not include photos, pictures, or graphs of any kind.  In addition, ensure that your layout is easy to read and digest.

Lastly, take advantage of keywords and be sure to incorporate them into your resume.  Your resume is a living document and you should update it periodically.

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