How to format your resume

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 hey want to read further. In addition to key words, 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 These templates are outdated, and they will make your resume appear generic and uninviting.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 web sites. You can find samples of resumes on the Internet; search for resumes by your industry to find the templates that make most sense for the job you are seeking. Than 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.

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, be ware 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 than 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 check point, 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.

Resume headings – what information to include and how to format it

The first and most prominent item on your resume if your name and contact information. Your name is typically in the largest font, standing apart from all other text on your resume. A common mistake professionals make is trying to emphasize their name in a special font type. As it is difficult to anticipate the software and its version your potential employer is using, you run a risk of not knowing exactly how your name will show up on their screen. Stick to the basic font types – Arial and Times New Roman are most commonly used and are least risky when it comes to formatting your resume. Don’t go overboard on the font size either. Your name should be in point size 14 or 16; all other headings should be in 12 or 14 point font, while the remaining text of your resume should be between 10 and 12 points. Along with your name, the very top of your resume should contain your mailing address, your email address, and at least one phone number where you can be reached. It is best to include a physical mailing address over a P.O. Box, whenever possible. You should never include an email address at your current place of employment (believe us, it happens). A helpful hint about listing your email address – make sure that it contains your name, as this helps you appear more professional. You can create a free Yahoo email account; it also maybe helpful to have one email address as a point of contact for your job search. At least one phone number should be listed; make sure to indicate if you are listing a home or a mobile number. If you have a professional web site, you can include the address to it along with your contact information. Please note, only do so if there isn’t anything on the web site that is personal; the only reason your potential employer may want to look at a web site is if your professional portfolio or a copy of your resume can be found there.

Whether you decide to create a chronological or a functional resume, you will need to separate the information by headings. The best advice we can give you is to keep the section headings professional and stick to the basics. Don’t try to come up with creative titles for your professional summary, or for your qualifications. Your chronological resume should have the following sections/titles:

– career objective

– professional summary (optional)

– professional experience/work experience/experience

– education

– publications/special achievements (if applicable)

– qualifications/skills

– references/references and portfolio

A functional resume is slightly different, and the headings you chose will truly depend on the skills you are trying to highlight. You should include:

– career objective

– education

– professional skills/professional qualifications (this section will include sub-headings as they relate to specific qualifications you want to promote, such as communications, customer relations, managements, etc.)

– work experience/work history (if applicable; should only include dates, titles, companies and locations without listing responsibilities)

– volunteer work/activities (if applicable)

– references

These are the typical sections of chronological and functional resumes. Do some research on resume styles and find sample resumes of professionals in your industry. You may need to adjust these headings based on your field, although the content should be consistent across industries. Stick to the basics; don’t try to be creative in order to stand out. A professional and polished resume will get you noticed, so do your best to create a resume that is error free and best supports your career objective.