Alpha Bits

Information, insights and advice regarding today’s IT and pharmaceutical recruitment landscape. 

Four Tips About Formatting When It Comes to Your Resume

When you’re preparing for a job search, ensuring your resume is on point is essential. An odd-looking resume may not be well-received, causing you to get overlooked by hiring managers. Similarly, some design choices could confuse automated resume screeners, leading to missed opportunities.

Fortunately, getting the formatting right isn’t overly tricky. Here are four tips that can get you moving in the right direction.

1. Use a Traditional Layout

While column-based resumes feel impressive and modern when viewed or printed, using that approach when applying to jobs isn’t always ideal. Many companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to screen applicants initially, and not all of them are designed to handle unconventional formats well.

Instead, stick with a more traditional layout. Put your contact information at the top, but don’t place it in the header. Many ATSs won’t scan the header correctly, so you want it in the main body of the document.

After that, use clearly labeled headers to separate the information into logical sections. Section headings like “Skills,” “Work History,” and “Education” work well, as they’re widely understood by ATSs.

2. Balance Text with Whitespace

Many candidates try to fit as much information into their resume as possible while also staying within the one-to-two-page limit that’s broadly recommended. However, you want to make sure that your resume doesn’t look like a giant wall of text.

Whitespace creates visual breathing room, making your application easier to read. Make sure your page margins are no thinner than a half inch, with one inch being the better choice. Leave black space between each major section, and have a small gap between each achievement you discuss in your work history to help the points stand apart visually.

3. Use Font Sizes Strategically

When you’re creating a resume, you want to make sure that your font size never dips below 10-point, as anything smaller is hard to read. In many cases, 11 to 12 pt is better for the broader document, as those are usually comfortable to view.

Then, use larger font sizes to highlight section headings or subsections. 14 pt works well for subheadings, and you may want to go as large as 16 pt for main headings.

By changing the font size, you can create visual separation without unnecessary flourishes, such as changing the actual font type or using different colors. Again, this helps with readability, making it a wise approach.

If you need a header to stand out more, consider going with the bold version of the main font. This draws the eye without unnecessary complexity and maintains overall readability, making it a go-to option.

4. Use Bullet Points

Bullet points help separate different pieces of information visually, which improves readability. Consider using bullet points in your work history to separate out each achievement you discuss. Bullet points also work well in your skills section, as it ensures each individual capability is separated from those around it.

Looking for additional career guidance?

Ultimately, all of the resume formatting tips above can help you craft a standout application. If you’d like to learn more or want to partner with a recruiter for your job search, Alpha Consulting wants to hear from you. Contact us today.