Congratulations! Maybe this is your very first resume, or maybe you’re an old pro—but the fact that you are updating your resume means you are on the verge of something big and exciting. For those of you who are new to resume writing, this article is for you.
The most important thing to keep in mind when you are planning or revising your resume is that you must have a clear vision of the professional image you want your resume to portray. We will discuss this further in another post.
Finally, as you continue to create and revise your resume, focus on making it as easy to read and digest as possible.
Make it Readable
- Font – Sans-serif fonts like Arial or Calibri are easier to read than serif fonts like Times New Roman. Don’t use a font size smaller than 10.5 and use a consistent font throughout your resume.
- Spacing – Your resume shouldn’t look crowded. A good practice is to leave as much white space on your resume as possible. Keep your margins between .75-1 inch.
- Well labeled categories – Help the recruiter scan your resume by clearly labeling major sections like Education, Experience, or Skills.
Unless you are a graphic designer and you are using your resume to showcase your skills, it is best to avoid graphics on your resume
Make it digestible
- Chronological – Arrange your work experience in chronological order with your most recent experience being on top.
- Jargon – Avoid using highly specialized language or acronyms in your resume. Even if you are perfectly qualified for the position, a recruiter who doesn’t have the same depth of knowledge as you can easily look over you for a candidate with a more straightforward resume.
- Clutter – Remove any jobs that aren’t relevant to the professional image you are trying to project. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your experience as a summer camp counselor isn’t relevant if you are looking for a job in the STEM field. It just means that if you are going to include camp counselor experience, make sure it says something about you. When in doubt, ask yourself if the position highlights your leadership, initiative, or critical thinking skills.
Make it easy on the recruiter
- Exclude personal information and pictures – Most companies are Equal Opportunity Employers. This means that including personal information like age, marital status, religion, height, or weight, makes the employer vulnerable to violating their EOE policies.
- Contact information – Put your contact information in an easily accessible place. Furthermore, if you are including your e-mail address or social media profile, make sure to make them hyperlinks.
- The 20-Second Test – Finally, get someone you know to look your resume over and after 20 seconds, ask them what they remember about you and what stood out the most. If they can do this easily and clearly then congratulations! You’ve made a succinct resume. If they are unsure exactly what it is you are saying about yourself professionally, then you might want to take some time to go back and focus your resume a bit more.