Formatting Your Resume
- Keep your resume to one page
- Avoid pre-formatted templates
- Use a common font in 10 to 12 point (e.g., Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial). Your name can go up to 18 or 22 point.
- Make headings and key pieces of information stand out by using bold, caps, or alternate fonts
- Use full-page underlines to make sections stand out
- Use bullet points to list skill statements to make them easier to read
- Right align dates (employment dates, graduation dates, etc.).
- Use consistent formatting and punctuation throughout
- Text and white space should be balanced on the page. Hold your resume at arm's length to look for areas with too much white space or too much text.
- Use margins of .5" to 1"
- Proofread, proofread, proofread!
You have options. There are multiple ways to organize the content of your resume. Most students and recent graduates choose the chronological resume format.
In this type of resume, the "Experience" section lists your experiences in reverse chronological order, with the most recent experience first. In addition to jobs, you include volunteer and internship positions—paid or unpaid. This type of layout highlights your experience (and education) more than your skills.
Pros: Your experiences (job, volunteer, internship) and your educational background will be highlighted. If you've held multiple positions, this is helpful, especially if the positions relate to the position to which you're applying. A chronological layout also allows you to show your progress/promotions in positions.
Cons: When you highlight your experience over your skills, you may be highlighting experiences that don't relate to the position. Also, gaps in your employment history will be more noticeable. (However, employment gaps are common among students and recent graduates.) If your skills relate to the position more than your experiences do, you may want to use a skills-based layout.
In this type of resume, you list and describe your skills, but you do not include information about your job/internship/volunteer experiences. We do NOT recommend this type of resume for students or recent graduates.
Skills-Based Resume (also known as 'Combination')
In this type of resume, you focus less on your experiences and more on your skills. You do provide a brief list of experiences, but you first emphasize specific skills you have.
Pros: This layout gives you a chance to highlight skills that are related to the position. This is particularly helpful if your skills are more relevant than your experiences. A skills-based resume allows you to list your most relevant skills at the top of the resume. This type of resume can be useful for students newly entering the professional workforce, or for people who are transitioning to a new career field.
Cons: This format may be too long. It's also unfamiliar to some employers.
Other Commonly Used Resumes:
Some companies request electronic resumes, which they scan for keywords that match what they're looking for in a job candidate. A scannable resume can be helpful, but you must know how to create an effective one, and know how to use keywords. Keyword scans usually look for nouns, not action verbs. The company's job description explains what they're looking for and is a good source of the keywords you should use when writing a scannable resume. Call or stop by our office for more help with this.
International / CV
If you're searching for a job outside the United States, you may have to change the format of your resume. Some countries require photos, handwritten cover letters, and a variety of formatting changes. Research the country or company norms.