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The Dos and Don’ts of Resume Formatting

Pen writing a resume

Crafting a resume that catches the eye of potential employers while showing off your skills and experience is an art.

The format of your resume plays a critical role in this process.

Here are the essential dos and don’ts of resume formatting to help you create a polished and professional document.

The Do’s of Resume Formatting

Do Choose the Right Format

Selecting the appropriate resume format is key.

Chronological, functional, and combination formats each serve different purposes.

The chronological format is best if you have a consistent work history. The functional format emphasizes skills and is suitable for career changers or those with employment gaps.

The combination format highlights both skills and experience, offering flexibility.

Keep It Clean and Simple

A clean, simple design ensures readability.

Use a professional font like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman in 10-12 point size.

Adequate white space, consistent margins, and clear headings make your resume easy to navigate.

Tailor Your Resume for Each Job

Customize your resume for each position you apply for.

Highlight the most relevant skills and experiences that match the job description.

This demonstrates your attention to detail and genuine interest in the role.

Use Bullet Points for Clarity

Bullet points make your resume more readable by breaking down information into digestible chunks.

Use them to list job responsibilities, achievements, and skills.

Start each bullet point with an action verb and quantify achievements where possible.

Include Contact Information

Ensure your resume includes up-to-date contact information: your full name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile (if applicable).

Place this information at the top so it’s easy to find.

Proofread Thoroughly

Spelling and grammatical errors can undermine your professionalism.

Proofread your document multiple times and consider asking a friend or mentor to review it as well.

The Don’ts of Resume Formatting

Don’t Use Unconventional Fonts or Graphics

While creativity is valuable, resumes should prioritize professionalism and readability.

Avoid using fancy fonts, graphics, or images that can distract from the content.

Stick to a traditional, easy-to-read font and avoid unnecessary embellishments.

Don’t Overload with Information

Keep it short.

Aim for one page if you have less than 10 years of experience, and two pages if you have more.

Focus on the most relevant and recent experiences, and avoid including outdated or irrelevant information.

Don’t Use Personal Pronouns

Resumes should be written in the third person, without personal pronouns like “I” or “me.”

Instead of saying, “I managed a team of five,” simply write, “Managed a team of five.”

Don’t Include Irrelevant Personal Information

Details such as age, marital status, religious affiliation, or a photo are unnecessary and can lead to potential bias.

Stick to professional information that is relevant to the job.

Don’t Neglect Keywords

Many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to screen resumes.

Including relevant keywords from the job description can help your resume pass through these systems.

Ensure your skills and experiences align with the keywords used in the job posting.

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Don’t Forget to Update Regularly

Regularly update your resume to reflect your latest achievements, skills, and experiences.

An up-to-date resume is ready to go whenever new opportunities arise.

By following these do’s and don’ts of resume formatting, you can create a professional, polished resume that effectively showcases your qualifications and makes a strong impression on potential employers.

Remember, your resume is often the first interaction an employer has with you, so make it count.

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