Formatting A Resume: The Basics

Now that you’ve written and edited your resume it is time to move onto everyone’s favorite part: formatting. This is the slightly tedious, but very important step before you submit a resume. It is not to be skipped.

General Guidelines

There are some very basic guidelines to follow when you format your resume. Consider this your checklist to run down before submitting anything to an employer.

Is your resume…

1. Easy To Read 

This is essential for every good resume. You won’t be judged merely on what jobs you have but if they have an easy time going through your resume.

This means your resume should have:

  • Lots of white space:
    Make sure there is enough room between the company’s name and bullet points underneath describing what you did at the company. Also, create plenty of space between the different jobs and between categories like Education, Work Experience, Additional skills, and Contact Info.
  • Simple fonts and design features:
    Stick with an easy to read font like Times New Roman, Arial, or Georgia. Don’t number the tasks under the company name; use a simple circle, square, or dash for bullet points. Try to avoid having too many sub-points so as not to waste space and keep it from looking messy.

2. Easy To Scan

This goes right along with having a resume that easy to read. Recruiters want to easily find the information they are looking for. You want your resume to be scan-able. How do you obtain this elusive quality? Here are some tips.

a) Keep the name of the company on a separate line from the job title

b) Put the dates you worked at the company on the right-hand side but on the same line as the company’s name

c) Make the company’s name bold along with the dates

d) Bullet points must be indented

e) Italicize the job titles

f) Categories such as Education and Work experience should be bolded and a bigger font

g) Use strong action based verbs. These verbs should correlate with words often used in your industry. That will make it easier for recruiters to sort out which skills and experiences you have.

3. Quick Note About Dates

For most resumes, dates should be in reverse chronological order. The only exception is if you create a section for Relevant Work Experience. Even if you do have this extra section, the general Work Experience section will be in reverse chronological order. To keep things consistent, use the same format for dates throughout the resume. Dates should consist of the month and year, a dash, and another date and year, acting as a range of when you were at a job. An exception would be if you had a seasonal job/semester abroad, then putting fall, summer, winter, spring and then the year is acceptable.

Below is a great example describing everything we’ve covered.

Let’s breakdown what we see in this example. There is a lot of white space between her name, education, course work and work history. Each category is bolded and separated from the company/title making it easy to scan. The font is simple and easy to read. The bullet points are indented and a simple circle design. The dates are put on the right-hand side and are in reverse chronological order.

This is a perfect example of what you should be striving towards. That concludes our Resume Series. Hopefully this gives some helpful pointers as you apply for that next job.

EDIS Group is a recruitment firm that connects candidates with top companies in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. EDIS spends a lot of time prepping candidates and job-seekers. We’ve seen how small changes can make a huge difference. Use these tips to better your chances of finding the right job for you.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of our Resume Series to find out how best to format and edit your resume.

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