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6 Tips For Résumé Formatting

September 14, 2017


1.   Don’t just double check your résumé. Get a friend to triple check it. 

Believe it or not, grammar and spelling mistakes on a résumé are a huge pet peeve for a lot of employers. One of the hiring managers that mentors on PREVIEW put it this way, "It's the very least a job candidate can do (to check spelling & grammar) before submitting a résumé". It might seem trivial to you, but when you submit a résumé with grammar and spelling mistakes, it signals three things about you:


1) You don't want the job badly enough to ensure a positive first impression. What the employer is thinking is: "Even if this was a great candidate for the job they'll probably leave to take a job they actually care about."


2) You're bad when it comes to paying attention to details. Remember, all employees are representatives of their companies. The potential employer may be thinking, "What if this candidate was publishing customer-facing content?" or, "What kind of other more critical mistakes could be impacted with such negligent behaviour?."


3) You're less conscientious, intelligent, and trustworthy. Ouch! This sounds harsh but research shows this to be true of college students (vetting potential new colleagues) who read email messages containing grammatical errors compared to without. 


2.   Spacing matters

It’s tempting to try and cram your résumé with as much information as possible. You have so many achievements you need to highlight. The problem is your résumé is not the only résumé the employer will receive; they may be sorting through hundreds of résumés on top of yours. You don't want your résumé to be dense and difficult to read at a glance. Will this affect your chances of getting hired? Yes! Don't give employers any reasons to skip over your résumé because it looks tedious to read. Be mindful of the amount of spacing you put between lines so that it's easier on the eyes.


3.   Use bullet points wherever possible

Bullet points are great when it comes to résumés. Instead of writing paragraphs about yourself, break down important points into bullet points if you can. With paragraphs, it’s difficult to quickly extract information; you need to read from start to finish. That's bad! You want to make your résumé as easy to read as possible, meaning that employers could skim through it in less than 30 seconds and be able to gather all the necessary information. This is where bullet points come in and take over. Use bullet points.


4.   Include a highlight section to summarize your top qualifications

By having a personal highlights/summary section, you are providing employers with an overview of all your best qualities! Employers love this. It's a huge time-saver and it clearly states your qualifications and how they align to the job description. Without this section, they would need to read through your entire résumé and actively interpret how your skills from previous experience relate to those required for the job at hand. What if you have strong leadership skills, but employers misinterpreted and missed out on that fact? Use the highlight section to communicate this directly and explicitly, and keep them from having to guess.


5.   Tailor your resume to different positions

You should customize your résumé to better represent yourself and maximize your chances when you apply for different positions; it shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all application. The best way to do this is to have a master résumé ready. Whenever you apply to a new job opening, create a new résumé using the master. Your new résumé should be very specific and pinpoint only the things that are relevant to the job opening. This will make you a better candidate as compared to someone who just submitted a generic résumé hoping to land a job somewhere.


6.   Reference available upon request

No. Don’t include this in your résumé anywhere; it would just be a waste of space. Of course references should be available when employers request it! So why state the obvious? The space can be put to way better use.

Extended Reading: 5 Tips for Resume Writing [Examples]

Additional Resource: Resume Review, Performed by Hiring Managers



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