Having a well-formatted resume is almost as important as having a well-written resume. Most employers receive a stack of resumes of qualified candidates and scan them quickly before they decide whether or not they want to read further. In addition to keywords, what stands out the most about your resume is its format. It is essentially the first thing people will notice, whether on paper or in electronic form.
There are a number of rules you should keep in mind when formatting your resume. First, start with a blank page. Avoid using templates that are already available in Microsoft Word. These templates are outdated, and they will make your resume appear generic and uninviting. Additionally, these templates, while well formatted in Microsoft Word, will not translate well when emailed or uploaded to job search engine websites. You can find samples of resumes on the Internet; search for resumes by your industry to find the templates that make the most sense for the job you are seeking. Then work on a blank page to replicate the look and feel of the resume you like.
Ideally, your resume should fit on one page; if you have extensive experience, limit the length of the resume to two pages, but only list experiences and skills relevant to your career objective. Even if you are applying for a job in a creative field, do not insert images or pictures into your resume. If you are looking to show off your creativity, you can do so in a separate portfolio of your work.
Generally, the page should have one-inch margins, top, and bottom, right and left. Use left justification only – as a rule, do not center the content of your resume. The font and font size should be consistent. Your name and any headlines in your resume should be displayed in the same manner. Typically, the headlines will be in all caps, and in bold. Try not to underline any of the information in your resume. In the world of Internet-driven job applications, underlining in a document implies a web link. Thus, using underlining for emphasis is not appropriate. The font size for headlines should not exceed 14 points; the remainder of the text in the resume should not exceed 12 points.
When trying to align your resume, beware of spacing and tabbing. Stay consistent in the way that you are spacing out the information on the page. Use tabs, rather than spaces. You always have to anticipate that the person you are sending your resume to may have a different version of the software that you and thus may not see the exactly the same resume you are sending – it is possible that the margins will reset, paragraphs will shift, bullet points will change shape, etc. This is why you must keep the spacing consistent, as well as try to keep the font and the bullet points as basic as possible.
As a last formatting checkpoint, ask your friends or your family for help in reviewing your resume. Send the resume file via email to a few of your friends – ask them to review the resume and make sure nothing seems out of place. Print out the resume on paper and review to make sure that margins are accurately set, and that the content doesn’t appear crowded on the page. Keep in mind – when it comes to your resume, sleek simple appearance, and great writing, will get you the job you are looking for.