Presentation is your first impression. Much like when you meet someone for the first time and you know that they’re forming their first impression of you. Of course we always hope it will be a positive one and it is the same principle with your resume. The presentation of the document is the reader’s first impression. You can either delight them and encourage them to learn more or you can turn them off and make them run in the opposite direction.
After completing approximately 400 resume evaluations over the past 10 days I noticed a very tragic pattern. Executives were using resume layouts and formats that were elementary for their level of expertise and experience and entry-level and professional job seekers were using resume formats from over ten years ago that use objectives and two inch margins. Shocking I know!
How is it that out of 400 job seekers only two people had somewhat decent resume formats and presentation strategies? Lack of education and information is my diagnosis. Here is the remedy folks: DO YOUR HOMEWORK! I am going to provide you a quick checklist to compare your resume to and see if it would hold up to the standards of today’s job market.
1) Resumes longer than 2 pages for professionals or 3 pages for Executives will not work. How much information do you really think a recruiter can read in that initial seven second review? Certainly not three pages worth of information.
2) The first third of your resume is the most important. If you are not utilizing an introduction/profile that contains a professional branding statement, industry specific keywords, and a career summary that highlights your value proposition you will get lost in the stack of every other boring resume recruiters receive.
3) Do not use more than one font on your resume. Use the same font for the entire document. Using different fonts screams **MISTAKE**. And also that you pay absolutely no attention to the details.
4) Do not use different font sizes on your resume in another place other than your header. Using a size 12 font and size 11 font in your professional experience section will be a red flag.
5) Please, please, please do not utilize 1 inch margins. That is like waving a flag that says hello, I’m writing a college term paper versus applying for a professional position within your organization.
5) Do not use more than one type of bullet. Using different bullets throughout the resume especially in the same section (namely professional experience) just seems disorganized and tacky. Streamline your approach, be consistent not confusing.
6) Watch your page length and spacing. Again, 1.5 spacing or double spacing seems juvenile. We are not in high school we are in the corporate world and a VERY competitive job market. There are no excuses, now you know.
7) Attractive formatting is everything when you are trying to land the job of your dreams or just any job for that matter. Do your research! Don’t just go to the sample resume sites out there check out professional resume writing samples from actual professional resume writing services. Compare your resume to the samples you see and then you will know right off how you measure up. If your work is significantly different then a professional’s work chances are you could probably use some help.
This is not an all inclusive presentation/format list and does not include advice about any issues other then resume formatting. This is just a checklist to see if you are on the right track or not. If you’re not, which in my experience seems to be most of us then get help! Either get out there and research what you’re doing wrong and find ways to make it right or hire someone who can. This isn’t just your resume people, it’s your career and your life.
Jessica Holbrook is a former Executive Hiring Manager for Fortune 500 companies and President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast. She creates powerful, customized, and targeted resumes that are guaranteed to get her clients interviews. For a free resume analysis visit http://www.greatresumesfast.com or for a free phone consultation call 1.800.991.5187.
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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3. In journalism school, I was taught that it is appropriate to use one typeface for body copy, and another typeface for heads and subheads. This actually helps break-up the copy into digestable sections, making it more readable. For body copy, a typeface with serifs is more readable. Thus, you would want to use a sans serif typeface for your heads and subheads.
4. It is okay to use larger font sizes for heads and subheads. Fourteen-point for a head is okay, if it doesn’t make your resume too long. For subheads, 12-point would look good.
I think in journalistic writing that is an acceptable style. However, in professional resume writing it seems disorganized and appears as a mistake. We prefer a streamlined document that utilizes one font for the entire document. Also as I stated in the article header/headings can be larger fonts but professional experience/text should be regular size fonts. I prefer to keep everything below the heading all the same font for appearances.
Thanks for the comments!