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Here’s the Right Way to Format Your Resume

Posted by | October 23, 2017 | Improve your resume, Resumes

Via U.S. News : Here’s the Right Way to Format Your Resume

Learn the basics of creating a resume from scratch.

The hardest part of writing an effective resume is figuring out the content – how to talk about your achievements in ways that tie to what an employer is looking for. But people also do an awful lot of agonizing about the smaller details of a resume – things like format, length and even font choices.

Let’s put those worries to rest. Here are answers to the most commonly asked questions about how to format a resume.

Is there a basic resume format that works for most people?

In general, your resume should have the following sections in the following order:

  • Name and contact info
  • Work history, listed in reverse chronological order (for each job, list your title, the employer’s name, the dates you worked there and a bulleted list of achievements)
  • Education

Some people also include a short profile or summary section before their work history. This is optional, but has increased in popularity in recent years. The idea is to provide an overall framing for your candidacy.

Some people also find it useful to include sections for volunteer work or special skills. Again, this is optional, but in some cases it may strengthen your candidacy.

Does it ever make sense to use a functional resume rather than a chronological one?

Functional resumes – which are focused on one long list of skills and accomplishments rather than connecting them to a chronological work listing – are widely disliked by employers, since they make it difficult to understand what the candidate’s work progression has been. Hiring managers also tend to assume that candidates using this format are trying to hide weak experience or significant work gaps. Since using this format is likely to start you out on the wrong foot with hiring managers, stick to the chronological format over the functional.

What belongs in the education section?

Generally your education section will be just a line or two. You should list any degrees you’ve attained since high school, and the college or university that granted them. You generally don’t need to go into detail about your coursework – just the degrees themselves are sufficient.

You might also list certificates or other forms of continuing education here, but be choosy about what you list. Anything listed in this section should be substantial, so you shouldn’t include, say, a list of 15 day-long seminars you attended or every conference in which you’ve participated.

Should you talk about your work experience using bullet points or paragraphs?

When you’re describing your work experience, always use bullet points. Hiring managers are skimming your resume, and big blocks of text are harder to absorb quickly than bullet points are. Plus, many hiring managers’ eyes will glaze over if your resume appears to be one long block of text. Save that for your cover letter.

What about length? Is it OK for resumes to be more than two pages?

The old one-page resume rule is dead, but that doesn’t mean you can throw out all the rules about length! Your resume still should not be more than two pages. If you’re a recent graduate, stick to one page.

If that feels painful to you, keep in mind that the longer your resume is, the less likely hiring managers are to see the parts you most want them to see. Most hiring managers spend just a few seconds scanning resumes initially; if your resume is several pages long, how many highlights will they really spot? Plus, a long resume can make you come across as unable to tell what information is important and what’s less important.

Should you stick to a plain, basic layout or can a creative resume design score you points?

In most cases, you should stick to a plain, basic layout. The most important thing about your resume design is that it should be easy to scan and well-organized. Few hiring managers want to see unusual colors or innovative templates. The traditional resume layout may feel boring, but hiring managers know how to quickly find the information they want on it, and that’s to your advantage.

Does font choice matter?

Hiring managers won’t care about what font you use as long as you choose one that’s easy on the eyes. Your resume is not the place for a flowery cursive font or anything that’s going to make it difficult to skim quickly. Sample different fonts and pick one that you like and that’s easy to read. Georgia, Calibri, Arial and even old-school Times New Roman are all fine. (Really, a good litmus test for your resume font is that no one should be thinking about it. You want your content to stand out, not your font selection skills.)

And don’t forget that font size matters! Don’t choose a font size smaller than 11; anything else can be hard for some people to read.

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