When it comes to finding a job, all we’ve heard about the past few years is what a difficult market it is and how every available position is inundated with potential candidates. This has left job seekers feeling overlooked and frustrated. So, what is a job seeker to do in order to stand out from the crowd? Many have become creative with their resume hoping that this extra effort will catch a hiring manager’s eyes. Good idea? Yes, it is, if it’s done correctly. However, if it’s done incorrectly your resume can become a visual nightmare.
When it comes to your resume the font you choose is a critical element in the overall success. Your best bet is to stick with an easy to read and professional looking font. You may be tempted to use a dramatic or little used font in order to draw attention to your resume, but suppress that urge because it will only make you stand out for the wrong reason. Using more than one font style can also turn your resume into a mess. If you do use more than one font, I would recommend stopping at two and even then only use a different font for headings. Anything more will make your resume hard to read and if that happens, a hiring manager will simply stop reading.
On your resume, size matters, and that applies to both the font and the margins. I’ve seen resumes that use a really big font in order to make it stretch to two pages, or that have a supersized name or headings. Going up a size or two to highlight information is fine, just don’t overdo it. On the other hand, don’t use a tiny font to try and squeeze everything in. Leave enough white space to make it visually appealing. I have the same advice for margins, nothing too large or small. Setting your margins to 1.5” on all sides will leave too much white space and will just look strange, while a margin set at .2” will look crowded. I usually use a margin of .5” but will adapt it up or down as needed. Your margins don’t have to be the same on the top and bottom as they are on the sides.
Using color on your resume is a great idea; it’s fresh, it’s underutilized, and it can really help you stand out. Just remember though, moderation is your friend. Printing out your entire resume in electric blue is not a good idea. It won’t look professional and it could be hard to read. However, using color strategically for your section breaks, headings, or name can give your resume that extra edge you need to get noticed.
Use a resume format that clearly displays what you have to offer and doesn’t leave your reader searching for the information they need. Using an easy to read, modern, and well thought out format will be to your advantage. If it’s been awhile since you’ve had to have a resume, or if you just don’t know what the current trends are, do some research to see what is expected and what is considered outdated.
Too much text on your resume will not only look unattractive, it will overwhelm your reader. A hiring manager is not going to read through extensive paragraphs or a page of bullet points. Chances are they’ll quickly skim through it and will probably miss the most important points you were trying to make. Keep the content of your resume succinct to clearly show your value.
Don’t underestimate the visual importance of your resume. The way your resume looks goes hand in hand with what your resume says. You might have great content but it won’t do you any good if your reader can’t get past the way your resume looks. By keeping these things in mind when constructing your resume you’ll be one step closer to standing out from the crowd.
by Megan Koehler