It’s true: work experience is vital for securing your new role, but recent research suggests resume layout is just as important.
Not only does it speak volumes about your professionalism and personality, but hiring managers are far more likely to sit down and read it.
The best part about the layout is you only need a handful of tweaks to make it memorable and nab the interview. To help you make the right choices, here’s what you need to know:
What is the best resume format?
Reverse chronological resume format. This kind of layout is far more simple than it sounds, and is one of the most popular layouts. Essentially, your work history section should be written with the most recent role detailed first, and put before your education and skills sections. When applying to industry-specific roles, it is also common to exclude non-related jobs from this section.
Create Distinct Sections
A general rule is to have the following sections in your resume: name, contact details, profile, education, work experience, skills, and achievements.
Choose From These 3 Types of Resume Layouts
Next you’ll want to choose how you format these sections. Here are some of the most popular layouts:
Reverse chronological resume. This kind of layout is simpler than it sounds, and is one of the most popular. Essentially, your work history section should be written with the most recent role detailed first, and put before your education and skills sections. When applying to industry-specific roles, it is also common to exclude non-related jobs from this section.
Functional resume (skills-based). Unlike a reverse chronological resume, a skills-based resume focuses primarily on your experience and work-related skills. It is a great way of showcasing valuable, transferable skills to employers when you’re considering pivoting to a new industry, or applying to your first job.
Combination resume. As an increasingly popular resume format, a combination resume brings the reverse chronological and skills-based resume together.
No matter what you choose, using a layout shows employers you’re organized and an effective communicator.
Choose a Good Font and Text Size
Put simply, your resume font is important. Some simple, readable fonts to choose from include Calibri, Cambria, and Arial.
You’ll also want to minimize the use of effects like underlining, bold, and italics. Use them consistently rather than scattered throughout your resume.
Break Up Your Text
Now that you have a layout method and font, you’ll want to break up your text. If your sections are all close together, employers will have a hard time distinguishing between each one. The more succinct you are, the more space you’ll have to play with. When you’ve cut down all the words you can, use bullet points to highlight key skills. If you’re struggling to break up your text in a way that looks professional and personal at the same time, try using a resume template.
Most templates can be edited to reflect your own style, with options that include as much or as little information as you like.
On Using Color
Research suggests using color may have a psychological effect on the reader.
And if you’re not sure how to use color, using a template cab be an excellent, understated way to use it on your resume. As with most aspects of your layout, the key is finding a good balance. While using some bright colors show how creative you are, too much can be distracting.
Most of the time, color depends on the industry you are going into. For example, if you are applying for a role within the creative industries, using subtle accents of color in your headings, subheadings, and graphics, can showcase your talent and taste. In other industries like finance, muted colors may look more professional.
Choosing a palette is often the best option. Use a free graphic design platform like Canva to choose the best one.
Should You Include a Photo?
There is a mixed preference among employers over whether or not you should include a photograph. Some believe anonymity enables them to make a fairer choice over who progresses to the next stage. And other appreciate the clarity.
If you include one, there are some golden rules to bear in mind. First, a personal image of you without work attire can make you look unprofessional. Make sure to wear appropriate clothing. A relaxed and smiling expression can also show employers how warm and friendly you are- an essential skill in any workplace.
The quality of the image is also something to consider. If your image is grainy, there’s not much point in including it at all.
You’ll then need to decide on the ideal place to put your photograph on your resume, in a way that doesn’t take up too much space on the page. Ideally, you should put it on the first page, in one of the top corners, near your ‘About Me’ section. If you don’t want your appearance to influence an employer’s decision too much, consider the same location on the second page.