Make no mistake about it - the appearance of your resume is just as important as the content. When someone opens the document they immediately get a sense of whether it's easy (and enjoyable) to read, or if it's thrown together haphazardly with little attention to detail. That forms the foundation of the first impression and it usually happens before anything is actually read. Here are 10 tips to improve the appearance of your resume:
1. Don’t overuse text enhancements. I have seen resumes with bold, underline, italics, color, and different font types and sizes. Nothing stands out if you try to make everything stand out. For the most part, stick to bold and perhaps minimal color.
2. Make sure there's enough white space - it's just as important as text enhancements - and make it consistent throughout the document. Use the same size of white space between all sections, and the same size between all jobs.
3. Write numbers in number form on your resume - they stand out more. For example, write 6 stores rather than six stores. Traditional writing rules don’t always apply to resumes, so don't worry about the "10 and over" rule.
4. You’ll never get everyone to agree on the best font for a resume but I recommend common ones like Calibri, Arial, Tahoma, or Cambria. (Times New Roman is common too but I’m not a fan.) My usual choice? Calibri 11-12.
5. Hyperlink your email address, LinkedIn profile, and any other website links on your resume - it's easier for the reader. Also remove the underlining - it looks cleaner. I usually change the color to black as well, if I've used color elsewhere in the resume.
6. Your resume has to be organized and easy to read, and that doesn't just mean paragraphs and bullets. Are the company names, job titles, dates, and other critical information etc. easy to find? Don't bury important information where it's hard to see at a glance.
7. Simplify where possible - you don't need to put Tel: beside your phone number or Email: beside your email address. Also get a custom URL for your LinkedIn profile before adding it to your resume - it looks much more professional.
8. Don't make the size of your name too big. It can be bigger than the rest of the text, such as your contact information, but Calibri 12 or 13 is big enough. Remember, your name isn't anything special - it's more important to you than it is to the reader.
9. If you need to save space, you can often leave out section headings. The reader will recognize the summary, work experience, and education sections without headings. Occasionally I will use solid horizontal lines instead.
10. If you have a long list of bullets that are more than one line each, add a small space between each one to make it easier to read. Long bullet points can be just as daunting as chunky paragraphs.
11. This is just my personal preference, but make your resume a full 1, 2, or (if absolutely needed) 3 pages. Don't use half-pages - they look incomplete. Do you ever see a tri-fold brochure with half of the last page empty?
Bottom line? Make your resume clean, consistent, and easy-to-read, and you’re well on your way to making a great first impression. Cheers!
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