Appearances are everything where resumes are concerned. First of all, many resumes are screened by automated screeners, and only those with certain formatting will pass through the computerized process. If they do make it onto a human being’s desk, the average amount of time your resume gets to make an impression is 7 seconds. Your resume is being judged by its appearance before a word of it is read. It’s a good idea, then, to know what appearance choices you should make when crafting your resume.
1. Use a standard font
Stick to either Times New Roman or Arial/Helvetica. Other fonts are too hard to read and attract too much of the wrong kind of attention—the kind that gets your resume thrown out. Do not use a non-standard font in an attempt to express your individuality; you will only look unprofessional. Standard fonts are invisible, so all the reader will see is your information.
2. Be consistent
If you use bullet points for your information, use bullet points throughout. If you put section headers in bold, put them in bold throughout. Your organizational principles should be clear at first glance.
Borders can be acceptable, but follow the same guidelines as with fonts. Keep them subtle, conservative, and professional. No clip art, curlicues, or shadowed lines, and make sure they’re the same on every page.
4. Keep it clean
I’m not talking about language (though you certainly want to keep that clean, as well), but rather about keeping your pages uncluttered, with information easy to find. Don’t include long paragraphs, and don’t crowd too much information into too small a space. Lots of white space makes it easy to focus on what matters—your accomplishments.
5. Keep it to two pages or less
You might have more accomplishments than that, but keep it focused to the items that pertain most to the job. One page is even more ideal, but two is permissible. Never go beyond two—it won’t get read, and might even irritate the hirer enough that they toss it out.
6. Make your name stand out
Your name should be easy to see and remember, along with your contact information. Your name can be written in a larger font, unlike the rest of your resume.
Of course, content matters immensely—you are ultimately judged on what’s IN your resume. But if you want your resume to get to the point in the process where someone actually reads your content, it has to look right. Paying attention to how you put words on the page will result in resumes that get read and noticed.