What Makes a Good Resume?

Even as the labor market remains tight, distinctly favoring job seekers, hiring managers are still only spending mere seconds when they review a resume. While the amount of time has increased, reaching 7.4 seconds instead of just 6, it’s clear that candidates don’t have much time to catch the attention of a potential employer.

If you are competing for a coveted role, having a good resume is essential. While most job seekers focus on the content, making poor formatting choices can lead hiring managers to place your application directly into the discard file. If you want to make sure yours is in the best shape possible, here are some tips for crafting a stellar resume.

Simple Layouts

The layout of your resume should draw a hiring manager in, encouraging them to continue down the page. Additionally, it needs to strike a balance between content and whitespace, ensuring your document doesn’t look crammed to the brim.

Begin by making your contact information easy to find. Center it along the top edge of your resume and avoid too many embellishments, like multiple lines that divide it up. Additionally, make your details one to two points larger than the body text, ensuring it takes center stage. Then, add a professional overview underneath your contact information, providing the hiring manager with a quick synopsis of what you bring to the table.

Next, make sure your headings and titles are clearly marked, such as by making the text bold and slightly larger (just one or two points) than the body text. This makes the core information highly scannable as the slight adjustment to the text, in comparison to the body text, makes it stand out.

As you fill in the information about your accomplishments and skills, use an F- or E-pattern, as this reflects typical reading tendencies. This means leaving most of the content aligned to the left and using bulleted lists to highlight important details within each section.

Clear Fonts

Not every font is as easy to read as others, and the size of your text also influences readability. In fact, your font selection can impact whether an applicant tracking system (ATS) can scan your document effectively, affecting your chances of moving beyond the initial automated screening phase.

In general, it is best to stick with sans-serif fonts throughout the document. For example, Calibri, Arial, and Verdana can all be suitable. Most ATS systems can read sans-serif fonts but may struggle with serif fonts, so opting for one of those three means your resume can be scanned properly.

When it comes to font size, opt for 10, 11 or 12. This is a comfortable size for most people, ensuring they don’t have to squint when they review your information.

Avoid Excessive Emphasis

While bolding your headings and titles is fine, you want to limit the amount of emphasis you add. If you use bold, italics, and underlines too often, it can make your resume look cluttered, disheveled or even crowded, all of which negatively affect readability.

Similarly, while using a single horizontal line to divide your contact details from the rest of your resume is fine, anything beyond that is visual noise. If your headings and titles are clear, you don’t need to do anything else to make the sections stand out.

By following the tips above, you can create a highly readable resume, ensuring what you have to offer is clearly displayed. If you’d like to learn more about resume writing, the team at The Squires Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our resume specialists today and see how our services can benefit you.


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