The format of your resume can make a big difference. Whether you choose the chronological, functional, or combination resume format, your job is to help hiring managers understand how your experience and skills fit the role.
Remember that hiring managers only review your resume for about six seconds before deciding to keep reading or move on. The following tips will help you make your resume easy for them to read.
1. Use a Bulleted List
While most of your resume should be written in paragraphs, there are places where a bulleted list may be appropriate, including under job titles, in the education section, and in your skills section. However, it is essential to understand how and when to use these to create compelling lists that will be a draw for hiring managers.
Ideally, your bullet points should start with strong action words and include numbers and data where possible. This will help to make your bullet points more impactful as it shows how much you have accomplished. For example, instead of saying that you “completed reports,” you should say how many you completed and the results. This way, your employer can see the value you bring to their company.
2. Keep It Simple
A well-written resume requires more than just good writing skills. Strategic resume formatting is also essential to ensure your document looks professional and is easy to read. For example, using standard fonts like Arial or Calibri, commonly used on workplace documents, is an excellent choice.
Likewise, limiting the use of bolding and italics to critical sections and significant accomplishments will keep your resume from looking cluttered. Also, don’t overdo it with the text size. Aim for something between 10 and 12 points to be easily readable across various devices.
Lastly, using action words to describe work experience is more effective than simply listing responsibilities and tasks. Examples include “Initiated and wrote a first training manual for company’s new data tracking system that cut the time to train staff by two weeks” or “Increased monthly sales revenue by 15%.” The latter is more impactful and shows the applicant’s ability to drive results.
3. Make It Easy to Read
Keeping your formatting consistent throughout the document will allow it to be easily read. Formatting elements include paragraph and line breaks, font style and size (aim for 10-14 points), and spacing. White space should be included to create a visually appealing appearance.
To create impactful bullet points in the experience section, use a formula such as BAR (Background, Action, Results), CAR (Challenge, Action, and Results), or STAR (Situation, Task, Action, and Result). Ensure each bullet begins with an action verb.
Depending on the industry, including other sections such as professional affiliations and memberships, language skills, volunteer work, or academic projects/research may be appropriate. Including these sections will help distinguish you from your competition. However, be sure these are relevant to the role you’re applying for.
4. Be Specific
Recruiters and hiring managers look for specifics when reading resumes. Use formatting techniques such as bolding, italicizing, and underlining sparingly to draw attention to key points and keywords. Avoid using them excessively, as this can make your resume appear cluttered and disorganized.
Similarly, trite descriptions of your experiences and accomplishments won’t help you stand out. Instead, provide specific details about your work, such as measurable results or project outcomes.
5. Don’t Overdo It
Think of your resume as a marketing document selling you as the perfect candidate for a specific role. Tailor your resume to the job posting by only including experiences, skills, and education that are relevant.
When creating your bullet points, use the BAR (Background, Action, Results) formula or STAR (Situation, Task, Action, and Results). These strategies will help you create impactful and measurable accomplishments that stand out.
Whichever resume format you choose, remember there’s nothing quick or easy about crafting an impactful resume. It’s a thoughtful process requiring research, time, and patience. The result is well worth it, though. You’ll have a vital document that will help you land an interview.