The content of your resume without any doubts is crucial for getting a job of your dreams. But, the right formatting and how your resume is attractive to the reader is very important as well. Up to 60% of resumes can be overlooked because of bad formatting and resume design. Don’t be one of these applicants and stand out with your good looking resume.
Here are 19 easy ways to make your resume attractive:
1. Software compatibility
Big companies, recruiters and job board websites manage applicants with different software systems to keep track of the hiring process. This software is generally called Applicant Tracking System and it is also known as ATS. These software systems don’t like formatting options like different text boxes, columns, clipart etc. If you know that the company uses this system, design your resume as one column resume and avoid at all costs special characters, funky fonts, colours, images or graphics. The software robots don’t like reading these formatted resumes and they are not good at it either. If you know that the company is smaller and they don’t use an advanced program, choosing a resume design with text boxes and columns can be beneficial for your application. Do some research and be sure to submit the right document format and resume files. Also, check if you can submit a resume in a PDF format. Application forms usually specify this. The application form would request to upload your resume, cover letter or additional files in PDF or different formats. PDF files have the benefit that they are all displayed in the same way on all electronic devices. Also, the documents look the same when printed. Your resume submitted in MS Word document (e.g. .doc, .docx) or Pages (for Mac) might get the formatting mixed up after opening due to e.g. missing fonts. All your hard work with formatting and resume design would be for nothing. If you are submitting portfolios or artwork, it might be also beneficial to provide all creatives in a PDF format. Sending pictures in .jpeg (.png format etc.) as an attachment to the email might be marked as spam and end up in a junk folder. You will be also sure that your work is displayed precisely the same on all electronic devices.
TIP: Make sure that you submit a resume that is software compatible.
2. Typeface – Font family
Choose the right typeface – a family of fonts. Within a typeface, there are fonts different in weights and other variations e.g. bold, italic, semi-bold, heavy etc. Pick fonts for your resume that look good in the printed version of your resume and also in a digital version. Many people still use Times New Roman, but it doesn’t look well on digital devices, plus it became an overused font. You can choose free preinstalled Georgia as a substitute. Alternatively pick easy to read font families like Goud Old Style, Garamond, Arial, Tahoma, Century Gothic Lucinda Sans. Check free fonts here Google Fonts. Avoid any handwriting fonts, funky fonts or monospaced fonts. These are difficult to read by the scanning software and it would look really unprofessional to the hiring person. Additionally, the resumes are never handwritten as it’s time-consuming to read. Avoid, avoid, avoid!
TIP: Use only one font family throughout the whole resume. Mixing up two fonts might look unprofessional. Rather use different formatting.
3. Font size
Make it easier for the hiring person to read your resume. In general, choose your font size between 10 – 12 points. If you understand the difference between sans-serifed type and serifed type, don’t set your resume less than 9 points for the san-serifed type and 10 points for the serifed type. Don’t set the font size in your resume less than 8 pt – most likely it would look too small to the reader!
TIP: Using resume font size between 10-12 points will do the trick!
To make the document visually appealing use margins on all sides. Most recommended margins are at 2.5 cm (1 inch) on the left and right side and also top and bottom. Some recruiters recommend using margins up to 1.27 cm (0.5 inches). Choose margins suitable for your resume design and content. If you cannot fit your resume to the page, don’t decrease the margins! Your resume would be filled with too much text. Include only relevant information, achievements and selling points!
TIP: If you cannot fit your resume to a desired number of pages, don’t decrease the margins. Skip unnecessary parts in the resume.
The resume headings need to have a consistent style in the entire resume. The headings are often formatted in all capitals and bold or bigger font size. Depending on your body font size, the headings can be set to 14 – 16 pt. In this way, the resume headings stand out and the reader gets a quick overview of your resume. You can use a border or horizontal line to highlight your headings to enhance your resume design and resume readability.
TIP: Use formatting options like all capitals, bold and bigger font size 14-16 pt for your headings.
6. Borders and Shading
Related to the headings formatting, you can use borders and shading to format your text. Instead of underlining one word or the heading, you can insert a border to separate the heading and paragraphs. People often use horizontal rules and lines above and/or below the headings. They are easy to set in the format menu bar or insert as lines. You can also apply different shades of the lines in your resume design.
TIP: Use horizontal lines to separate the headlines and paragraphs.
7. Bullet points
Bullet points are always recommended. It makes the text digestible, easier to orient in the resume and the resume design looks neat. These bullets are also used as your selling points, so the content of the resume is very important here. From a formatting point of view, use the simple standard bullet point system. You can set the bullets a bit smaller than lowercase letters and aligned to the middle of the first following letter. Don’t use special characters as bullets as it might look unprofessional and can be difficult for scanning software.
TIP: In your resume use standard bullet formatting given by the software you use.
Punctuation is also important despite your resume is not a school essay. Be consistent with the punctuation marks in your resume and always check the punctuation when finished with writing your resume. If you use bullet points, it might be a good idea to use a dot after each sentence. In this way, the text looks more natural and easier to read.
TIP: Be consistent with punctuation and don’t forget to check it when done writing your resume.
Be sure that all text, headings, paragraphs are aligned in the same way. In other words, they are in line with each other. It would look strange if headings are not in the same line and they would be placed in different positions. Use a ruler and line indents to make sure that all headings, paragraphs and bullets in your resume are in line and in the right position.
TIP: A ruler helps to make sure that all parts of your resume are in line.
10. Text justification
Any text in documents can be aligned to left, right, middle or justified. Justification of the text in your resume can have benefits. However, it might create strange gaps and spacing between words and letters. It’s recommended to align the text to the left margin (also know as left-aligned). The text looks more consistent and the spacing is the same between all formatted words. Choose text alignment that generally fits your resume design.
TIP: Don’t use justification in your resume. Align text and paragraphs to the left.
11. White Spacing
Your resume can look overwhelming with all information and text. A simple layout with white spaces helps to keep your resume readable and easy to understand. White spacing can be seen as an empty space. In the resume, you can use white spacing between paragraphs, columns, boxes of text, your name etc. Resumes with good white spacing are favourite resumes of all hiring people and it makes your resume look attractive.
TIP: Use white spacing in your resume for a better reading experience.
12. Make each page a full page
Using white spacing increases readability, but you shouldn’t have empty spaces on your resume. Use the whole space of the resume page. Empty spaces will look strange and give an impression of an incomplete resume. Also, it’s a wasted opportunity to tell more about you and why you are the one to be hired for the position.
TIP: Use all space in your resume, but don’t make the resume too “stuffed”.
13. Line spacing
Line spacing in a resume document is the space between each line of the text in a paragraph. The word line spacing is usually set to single-lines spaced or double-spaced lines. Double-spaced lines are often used by writers. The benefit of single-line spacing is that your resume will be shorter in length. Applying the right line spacing is better than including too much text. If your font is set to smaller pt, you’ll need less spacing and vice versa.
Tip: Set the right spacing depending on your font size.
Don’t make your resume too colourful, keep the resume simple! Unless you have an infographic resume or artistic resume that increases changes to get the position. If you want to use more colours, go for a combination of two colours e.g. body text black, headings a different colour. Make sure that your coloured resume looks good when printed in black and white. Still, many hiring people would prefer your resume in one colour. If you want to keep it simple and avoid mistakes, go only with black. You might think that it doesn’t make your resume attractive. Black on white is easy to read on all screens and when the resume is printed in black and white, you know that your resume looks always perfect.
TIP: Choose a colour that is contrasting and easy to read. Only black colour does the trick as well!
15. Resume length
A good resume is not about the number of pages. If you are a recent graduate or have less than one year of experience keep the resume to max 1 page. There is no need to include extra information as it wouldn’t be beneficial for the application. Once you have more professional experience and past jobs, you can extend your resume to 2 pages. In general, if you can say your story and the most relevant information, keep your resume sweet and short. More details about your experiences, skills and qualifications can be mentioned in a cover letter and discussed during an interview.
TIP: Keep your resume to 1 – 2 pages depending on your career length.
16. Footers and headers
Some applicants use footers and headers to include information about themselves like their name, address and contact information. I wouldn’t include any text in the footer as I find it disturbing to the reader. Rather include your contact information on the top of the resume, ideally close to or next to your name (see examples below). Don’t forget to include contact information on each page of your resume! In that way, the hiring person can contact you easily and just in case the first-page would get lost.
TIP: Put your contact details in the top section of each page of your resume.
Example 1 Contact Section (click on the image to see the template)Example 2 Contact Section (click on the image to see the template)
17. Use a quality paper
Sometimes you are in situations e.g. a job fair or an interview when you need to print out your resume and submit it in a printed version. Go for standard colour papers. Choose a white, light grey, or ivory colour. Different colours like light pink, green or blue etc. are inappropriate and they won’t give a professional impression. Don’t use these colours for your resume! You can also choose a bit heavier paper than a regular paper.
TIP: Choose plain smooth quality paper to print your resume on.
18. Paper size
Select a standard paper size depending on a country you live in. In the United States, people use the standard paper size – US Letter size paper 8.5×11 in (215.9 by 279.4 mm) defined by American National Standards Institut. In Europe or other countries go for ISO International Paper Size Standard – A4 210×297 mm (8.27 by 11.6 in). Don’t use different sizes like A2, A3, A5 or US Legal paper size!
TIP: Choose either US Letter size or A4 size for your resume.
19. Document orientation
It might be innovative or seen as thinking out of the box when a horizontal orientation (also known as Landscape) is used for in resume design. Sadly, it is not! The resume would become rather annoying for the readers as they would have to turn the resume. Stick to the standard natural vertical resume orientation – Portrait and focus more on resume writing.
TIP: Use only a portrait document orientation for your resume.
To sum up:
This post outlined 19 easy ways to make your resume attractive. Hopefully, they will help your resume to stand out. Take time to make your resume look beautiful and professional. You only have a few seconds to impress the hiring person and get an invitation to a job interview. Make the most of the time and opportunity! Some of these ways are really easy to follow and apply. You don’t need to use all mentioned ways, but try to put in place as many as possible. Have a common sense and keep it simple. Don’t overdo your resume, always keep your resume design consistent and targeted to each position! Do you have any other ways to make your resume attractive? Let us know in the comments below. Cover image: Stocksnap.ioSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave
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