Top 6 Tips For Resume Formatting

Woman holding laptop wondering how she should format her resume

Resumes are still the main “calling card" used by job seekers and there are various schools of thought about the formatting of this document.

Here are a few tips for formatting your resume that may help you beat the blank screen blues if you're creating a new resume from scratch (or updating one you haven't touched in years):

1. White Space Is Important

Man on laptop thinking about how to format his resume


Most resumes have at least a half-inch margin, but a full inch is preferable. If your margins are smaller, you risk losing content if the document is printed by the hiring manager. Plus, a resume that lacks a one-inch margin is harder for the reader to peruse and may look cluttered or chaotic—two qualities that are not often sought by employers.

Readability is key when formatting your resume. Keep this in mind if you're using a resume template, or adding bullet after bullet of new information to your already-existing resume. It's a delicate balance between too much and too little information. Never underestimate the power of white space in your resume.

2. Don't Leave Empty Fields

Woman on laptop correctly formats her resume for a job opening


If you're going to use a resume template, ensure all of the fields are completed with your personal information. Nothing looks worse than seeing "insert job information here" on a candidate's resume. A glaring resume mistake like this may tell the hiring manager you lack attention to detail or other basic skills needed for the job.

The better choice may be to look at a variety of resume formats and combine styles based on your level of experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities.

3. Use Spellcheck & Have A Human Edit Your Resume

Man helps his friend format her resume


Spellcheck is great, but it doesn't catch all grammatical and typographical errors. It's helpful to have someone else review your resume. Ask for that person's feedback on the style of your resume and the resume's readability and content.

Where do their eyes look first? Did you quantify your work experience? Are your skills relevant to the position you're applying for? Does the resume prompt them to want to learn more about you and your qualifications?

A good resume format doesn't mean a thing if you have spelling and grammatical mistakes. Having another person review your resume could save you from some embarrassing job search fails. It's definitely worth the extra time and energy.

4. Cut The Fluff

Woman on laptop cuts the fluff while formatting her resume


Your resume should be clear and concise. Almost all people applying to jobs nowadays know how to use Microsoft Office programs and email, so there's no need to have a technical skills section on your resume unless you have skills that set you apart from the competition.

There's also no need to list "references available upon request." If employers want to check your references, they will ask for them.

Resume fluff only hurts your chances of getting the job. Nowadays, it's about quality, not quantity. A one-page resume with quantifiable accomplishments and work experience is always better than a two-page resume with irrelevant information.

So, cut the fluff and get clear on the value you bring to the table.

5. Be Consistent With Your Style

Man on laptop follows resume formatting tips


Keep fonts and font sizes the same throughout your resume. You should also consider using a similar heading on all pages of the document if your resume is more than one page. This is a good precaution in case the pages become separated.

Any inconsistencies will be distracting for the hiring manager. Choose a clean font, pick a font size, and keep the same style in each section of your resume, including section titles.

6. Determine If Your Page Length Is Appropriate

Most resumes are one to two pages. However, if you have more than 20 years of experience and/or a number of academic or professional publications, your resume may be longer.

Keep in mind that a longer resume doesn't equal more review time by the recruiter or hiring manager. Your most important information should still be at the top of page one. This is where all your hard skills (and transferable skills) should be, as well as your most relevant work experience.

When in doubt, ask yourself if the information you want to include on your resume makes you a better candidate for the job. If not, it's probably not relevant to the position and can be removed.

Resumes are not static documents, so even if you think you're finished with crafting a great one, you will want to revise it slightly for each job you are applying for and add to it as you obtain more experience. Since more and more recruiters are using social media, you will also want to update your LinkedIn profile to match your new resume.

With the right resume format, you'll catch the eye of hiring managers everywhere. We hope you use these resume formatting tips during your next job search. You'll be surprised by how much of a difference it makes.

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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