Steal the Spotlight with the Right Resume Format

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Private Equity Associate (Pre-MBA), New York, NY
Analyst, Chicago, IL
Equity Analyst, Louisville, KY
Sr. Marketing Manager, Nationwide
Research Associate, San Francisco, CA

More recent jobs you might like…

In this tough economy, employers can expect to weed through literally hundreds of submissions for a single job posting. That’s why job seekers cannot expect a hiring manager to read every word of each resume he or she receives. There simply are not enough hours in the day to make that possible, since whittling down an applicant pool is a time-consuming task.

If an employer is only able to spend 30 seconds on your resume, you need to make sure the most important information is obvious. Otherwise, your resume will likely wind up in the rejection pile along with candidates who may not be as qualified as you are.

It’s tempting to believe that attracting an employer’s attention can be achieved by opting for the most flashy resume possible. This often backfires, as job seekers tend to go overboard with visual bells and whistles when creating their own resumes. Utilizing too many options every word processing program offers for fonts, colors, and graphic elements can create more of a distraction than a solid presentation of your skills.

We already know that the audience being targeted is comprised of harried hiring managers reading a huge pile of resumes. Without realizing it, well-meaning job seekers who create multi-colored, crammed “works of art” are only hurting the eyes of important people who are able to give them a job!

The best format choice is simple, polished, professional – and most importantly, easy to read. If your resume contains any of the five features below, it’s time to consider a redesign:

1. Lack of White Space

Are your margins pushed to the absolute max? Are you using 8-point font? A quest to squeeze in as much content as possible comes at a steep price. While it may look fine to you, most readers will find they need to keep a magnifying glass handy in order to read small print with ease. If your resume is too dense with text, you can bet the reader is just not going to make the extra effort to read through it.

It is better to be more concise in your wording — or even sacrifice some content altogether. That way, you can hook an employer into reading some of what you did rather than overwhelming him or her with too much information that will not get read at all. Besides, you will have ample opportunities to expand upon your vast experience during an interview.

2. Colors

While some professions call for a more artistic flair on a resume, most do not. There’s a big difference between a graphic designer and a corporate banker trying to pull off using a red page border. Rather than risk having your resume look amateurish with a rainbow motif, it’s advisable to stick with basic black or gray tones.

3. Photos, Graphics & Logos

A resume is not the appropriate place for a photo, graphic, or logo for a variety of reasons. Strictly speaking about formatting, it’s a bad idea. Such items will increase the file size of your resume, make it more likely to get snagged by a spam filter, and create an inconvenient and time-consuming downloading process.

4. Too Many Bullets

Bullets are a great formatting device to create emphasis, but some job seekers like bullets so much they bullet practically everything. If you bullet everything, the emphasis is lost because the text drowns in a sea of bullets. For example, if you have a job description formatted as a long list of bullets, it will be hard for the reader to identify what’s important. Bullets should be used to draw attention to your achievements, but not to describe basic job duties. That way, if an employer does nothing more than skim your resume, he’ll notice the most impressive accomplishments first.

5. Fancy Fonts

The only characteristic that makes a font best for a resume is that it is easy to read. Sticking to one typeface will also spare the reader from eye strain.

Less is often more where resumes are concerned. Let your qualifications shine by allowing them to be your resume’s centerpiece, and you will set yourself apart from your competition.

About the Author:

Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!