After spending hours writing and proofreading your resume, don't make the mistake of sending it out without making it as visually appealing as possible. Content is very important, but the right format makes you look organized and professional. Make a good impression by following these tips for creating an aesthetically pleasing document.
1. Font Selection
Use a font that makes it easy for recruiters to skim your resume. Helvetica looks professional, so it's one of the best options available. Garamond, Times New Roman and Georgia are also suitable for professional documents. Because script fonts are so difficult to read, avoid them completely. Pick a font size ranging from 9 points to 12 points; anything smaller or larger makes documents difficult to read.
Use serif and sans-serif fonts to your advantage when formatting your resume. Serif fonts are ideal for paragraphs and lists, while sans-serif fonts work well for section headers. Whatever your choice, consistency is key. Using more than two fonts in a resume only decreases its readability.
2. Color Scheme
For many industries, black text on a white background is still the best way to go. If you're applying for jobs in a creative field, however, you may want to add a border or logo to make your resume more appealing. Optimally, you should pick just one or two colors and stick with them. Instead of using hot pink or neon yellow, use subdued colors such as navy blue and burgundy.
3. White Space
It's important to leave some white space around each header and block of text in your resume. White space makes it easier to read a document and focus on the content. Conversely, too much white space artificially increases the length of your resume, making it look like you don't have much experience. Strike the perfect balance by using just enough white space to make your resume look organized.
4. Section Headers
Headings draw attention to each section of your resume, making it easy for recruiters to skim the document. For best results, use relevant keywords in each heading. If the recruiter doesn't have to search for your skills, you have a better chance of getting the job.
5. Text Formatting
Purdue Online Writing Lab recommends dividing your resume into quadrants. Ideally, each quadrant should have roughly the same amount of text and white space. If your current resume is out of balance, use columns to move some of the text from one side of the page to the other. Also, place your most important information in the top left quadrant, as this is the area readers tend to skim first.
If you want to emphasize certain sections of your resume, you have the option of underlining the text, putting it in italics or making it bold. It doesn't matter which one you choose, but be consistent. Using several formatting styles reduces the readability and visual appeal of the document.
6. Bullet Points
Don't overwhelm recruiters with a text-heavy resume. By using bullets, it's possible to pack a lot of information into just one page. For best results, each bullet point should be no more than a few words.
7. Alignment and Margins
It's okay if you want to center your section headers, but stick with left alignment for the rest of your text. People read from left to right, so left-aligned text is easier to follow. In most cases, you should set your margins to an inch on all four sides of the page.
Use title case for section headers and sentence case for the rest of your resume. It's difficult for most people to read strings of capital letters, so don't use all caps to emphasize important information.
One of the best ways to make a good impression is to make the recruiter's life easier. Submitting a visually appealing resume makes it easy for hiring managers to process information and assess your qualifications, so spend extra time making sure your resume looks as good as it can before you apply for a job.
Photo Courtesy of Calvin Belcher at Flickr.com