When writing a resume, there is a lot of pressure on proving you’ve got the right skills, experience, and qualifications to do the job. Of course, this is important but all too often this means that perfecting the format of your resume is an afterthought.
While content is crucial, the look and format of your application can also make a huge impact and could even be the difference between you and another candidate being selected. You need to create an easy-to-read document that allows the recruiter to quickly determine if you’re a good fit for the role.
Therefore, it’s vital that you take the time to carefully format and fine-tune your resume before you submit your application.
Here are five simple tips that you can use to transform your resume and grab the recruiter’s attention immediately.
Don’t be afraid of white space
You might want to cram in as much information as you possibly can to try and impress the recruiter, but the opposite approach will be more effective in holding their attention.
A busy, text-heavy resume can actually put the recruiter off and make it much harder for them to find the information they need in the 6-8 seconds they take scanning your resume (on average).
So don’t be afraid of white space.
Having decent margins (of at least half an inch, but ideally an inch) is preferable. It’s also important to leave space between each key section to help improve readability.
A neat, well-organized, and scannable resume is the ultimate goal, so embrace white space where appropriate.
Use headings and sub-headings
Most resume formats will incorporate headings in one way or another, but we suggest you feature both headings and sub-headings to help structure your content.
These headings should either be bold or in a bigger font and in some cases, you might wish to have these in a different color to help them stand out.
You also have the option to underline these, but in this case, it’s best not to choose a line that goes across the whole length of the page. Instead, stick to just underlining the heading or sub-heading directly.
This helps the recruiter to glance over your application and quickly see where your skills, education, experience, etc., have been set out; making it far easier for them to determine if you’re a good fit.
But whatever you choose to do, just make sure that you are always consistent with your headings, keeping to the same format, color, or font for each one.
Use bullet points where appropriate
As we’ve said, large blocks of content might be filled with interesting information, but these are harder to read and digest. This makes them quite daunting and off-putting for the recruiter. Bullet points can be an excellent way to break up these bigger blocks of content.
Not only that, but they can be helpful for highlighting key points like your most relevant skills or achievements.
That is why you should consider using them where appropriate, whether that’s in your key skills section to lay out the most important and relevant skills, or in your experience and achievements.
This makes it easier for the recruiter to see instantly what skills you possess and if you’re a good match.
Keep your content concise
Being able to get the most from your content means using your words wisely. This works in several ways.
Firstly, be sure that you only include content that is relevant to the position or company you’re applying to. Secondly, keep your sentences as short and sweet as possible, adding figures wherever possible to illustrate your point.
These smaller sections are far easier to read and the numbers stand out and grab the reader’s attention. After all, the recruiter only really needs to know what you achieved and how it benefited the business.
So instead of saying:
“Noticed that some of the accounting software was outdated and was therefore running much slower than it should have. By revisiting the software the team was using and arranging updates, it saved the company $10,000 a year in lost time.”
You can use your words sparingly to say the same thing, focusing solely on the outcome:
“Identified a software issue and arranged repair updates which saved the company $10,000 a year.”
Stick to two pages
Lastly, when you’ve got a long and impressive career behind you, it’s tempting to just keep filling up the pages with information.
However, while you may have lots of experience and you may be highly skilled, your resume needs to be clear, concise and only show the most relevant and impressive information.
With that in mind, it’s best to stick to no more than two pages per application, cutting out the waffle and removing any irrelevant or outdated details.
If you can follow these five tips, you’ll be able to create a beautifully formatted resume that grabs the recruiter’s attention and increases your chances of landing your next exciting position.
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