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10 Tips for Resume Formatting

resume-formatting-tipsWriting and formatting a resume can seem like a daunting task. Whether you are refreshing an existing resume or starting from scratch, here are some of our top tips to get you started!

1) Keep the formatting simple

Unless you’re a graphic designer, your resume is not the place to show your artistic side. Avoid eccentric fonts, colors, and spacing. Put yourself in the shoes of the person reading your resume – the most important information should jump out from the page. Using an online resume template is a great way to get started!

2) Use bullet points, not paragraphs

Remember that the person reviewing your resume is probably reviewing dozens of resumes in a row. Bullet points will help you organize your skills and job duties without unnecessary filler, and will make it quicker for the reader to get the information.

3) Keep it to one page

Unless you have a very specialized and lengthy career, keep your resume to a single page. If the first page doesn’t really impress the reader, they’re unlikely to even make it to the second page. You can trim down a resume by leaving off older/irrelevant work experience, combining multiple short bullet points into a single line, and by not including unnecessary sections. For example, there is no benefit to including the very common line “References Available Upon Request.” It takes up space without adding any value.

4) Don’t include unnecessary personal information

If it doesn’t help sell you as a candidate, leave it off your resume – especially if it is personal. Never include your age on your resume, in any form. For example, including the year you graduated from high school or college gives the reader a pretty good idea of how old you are, as does including forty years of work history. There is also no need to include your full address on your resume – City & State are plenty. Will someone discriminate against your based on where you live? We hope not, but why risk it? Hobbies and Interests is another section that should be left off of your resume altogether because it takes up space without adding any value.

5) Make sure your email address is professional

That email account you’ve been using for the last 10 years may be great for Facebook, but is the address professional enough? Your email address should be a simple combination of your first and last name that doesn’t include any identifying numbers (i.e. the year you were born). If your current email address doesn’t fit the bill, take a few minutes to register for a new email account that does.

6) Be specific when listing your skills and experience

This is where you want to use the space on your resume. Be detailed about your job duties when listing your work experience. Include the names of the machines you worked on, the computer programs you used, and any other pertinent information. Not only is this important for the jobs you apply to, but every major job board has a search function where recruiters enter keywords to find candidates. If your resume doesn’t include those keywords, you could be missing out on great opportunities that aren’t posted publicly.

7) Customize your resume to each job

It’s not necessary to have a completely separate resume for each position you apply to, but taking a few minutes to tailor your resume to each position can be vital. Read the job posting carefully and add any applicable keywords into your resume. Change the order of your bullet points so that the ones that match the job posting are first. Remember, the easier it is to find the information on your resume, the more likely it is that you will get called for the position.

8) Explain gaps in employment

If you have time gaps between jobs, especially recent gaps of six months or more, you need to explain those. If you went back to school for a couple of years and did not work during that time, it may be appropriate to list that in your work experience to account for the gap. Whether you took time off to raise children, care for a family member, or to work side jobs – you can always use a cover letter to address the lack of work history. Many times a recruiter’s eyes will go right to the dates for each job to check for both longevity and consistent work history. Failure to explain gaps could cost you the job before you are really considered.

9) Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!

Don’t make the mistake of spending hours crafting your resume and then failing to proofread it. Depending on the position, typos and grammatical errors may immediately take you out of the running. Step away from your resume for a few hours and then look at it again with fresh eyes to look for errors. Once you’ve done that, ask someone else to look it over for you. In fact, ask multiple people to review it for you, then proofread it again yourself.

10) Follow instructions

Pay close attention to how the job posting instructs you to apply, and follow those instructions to a “T”. Sometimes the instructions are necessary for the company, and sometimes they are just a test. Either way, by not following the instructions you could very quickly disqualify yourself. One Milwaukee company clearly instructs every candidate to include a cover letter with their resume. If there is no cover letter, the company immediately deletes the resume without even looking at it. Extreme? It’s actually a fast way for that company to weed out anyone who can’t follow basic instructions. Don’t let that be you.

Next Steps

If you could use some help writing/formatting your resume, or if you just want to find a job that you will love, try working with an expert recruiter here at SITE Staffing!