5 Tips to Format Your Resume for Easy Reading

We’re all guilty of it.  You’re probably doing it right now – skimming this article for content that you think is important or relevant to you.  Employers do the same thing when reading your resume, so much so in fact that they only spend 15-20 seconds initially glancing at a resume.  Read up on these 5 tips to make sure your resume is best formatted to catch employers’ attention and encourage them to spend more time reading about your accomplishments.

1. Clear the Clutter

After the fall of your junior year of college, everything from high school should come off of your resume.  If you’ve been out of college for a bit, it’s time to think about what is most recent and relevant.  Do away with other items often found on a resume such as “References available upon request” and a vague or obvious objective statement.  You can most likely use this space more wisely to provide more information about your skills and experience.

2. Break Experience into Sections

You want to target your resume depending on whom you are sending it to, so consider creating a “Related Experience” section where you group relevant jobs, internships, volunteering, or activities.  Employers are not concerned whether you were paid or not for a position, as long as you gained meaningful experience.  Examples of other section titles include but are not limited to Work Experience, Leadership Experience, Externships or Shadowing Experience, Extracurricular Involvement or Activities, or Athletic Experience.  Within each section, positions should be listed in reverse chronological order (i.e. the most recent position is at the top).  Sectioning experiences off into different categories allows you to put older positions that are still relevant back up toward the top of the page within that “Related Experience” section, for example.

3. Bullet your Descriptions

For each position you have listed on your resume, aim to include 2-5 bullet points that describe what your role was in the position.  What were your duties and accomplishments?  Begin each bullet point with a strong action verb and avoid personal pronouns.  Quantify wherever possible to demonstrate the scope of your work.  For example, don’t just tell me that you managed multiple social media platforms.  Instead, tell me the percentage increase in social media metrics that you saw through your efforts of blogging and scheduling posts.

4. Keep Things Consistent

Stick to one font and keep it something easy to read like Helvetica, Georgia, Arial, Times, etc.  Make it simple for your reader to understand who you worked for, what your role was, and when you served in that position.  For each position, you should include your title, the organization name, date range, and location.  The order of these items is subjective and really up to you, but you should keep them in a consistent order and format from position to position.  For example, if you list:

Sales Associate, Ann Taylor LOFT, San Francisco, CA, August 2014-Present

Your next position should be listed in the same format:

Bank Teller, Wells Fargo, Charlotte, NC, May 2012-August 2014

And not a different format:

Wells Fargo, Charlotte NC
Bank Teller, May 2012-August 2014

5. Create White Space

No one will want to read your resume if you try to pack too much content into not enough space.  Give yourself some breathing room and remember: quality over quantity.  Keep your margins to .5-1 inches.  Aim to put a space between each section as well as each position.

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Keep these tips in mind to make sure your resume is as easy to read as possible.