We've come to the end of the series. While there are many things to know and keep in mind when writing your resume, this series has included the 10 I most need to adjust when writing resumes. It's no easy task to rewrite your resume, and if you get stuck, find a career coach to help.
Commandment #10: Thou shalt not make it too busy
This is an easy one for people to break. It's tempting to use color, lines, italics and a multitude of fonts, but based on conversations I've had with recruiters recently, they prefer less, not more. Now, as with all of these 10 commandments, there are exceptions. I've seen some amazing resumes for graphic artists, or marketing professionals that make sense for their line of business. When and where to use a more embellished resume, is an article for another day. For now, we're talking about the vast majority of people who, while using their network, need to have a resume that is easy to read and easily uploaded to companies' websites.
1. Photos. Personally, I love the idea of your photo on your resume. It's personalized, just like your LinkedIn profile. But, any employer can easily view your LinkedIn profile, with your picture, so leave it for there and not on your resume.
2. Color. Yes, it's a nice touch, and a little color is not a terrible thing. But keep it simple. We'll talk about lines in a moment. If you use a line, go ahead and throw your color in there. It's clean. It's simple. It's not distracting.
3. Lines. Yes, lines. I see them overused all the time. One line at the top to separate your contact information from the body of your resume is fine. But to separate each section with lines is a bit of overkill. I'm sure there are people out there who disagree, but recruiters I speak to don't like them. And, after all, we're trying to please them, right? They are the gatekeepers between you and hiring managers.
4. Italics. This is probably the most overused formatting I see. Don't italicize things like your job titles or company names. Use them judiciously and only when appropriate. Save the use of italics for something truly noteworthy on your resume.
5. Multiple Fonts. Yes, this one is interesting. The overall impression one gets reviewing a resume with multiple fonts is that the writer didn't pay attention to fonts and inadvertently used more than one. Now, this is NOT the impression you want to give. There are three fonts commonly recommended for resumes: Arial, Times New Roman and Calibri. Calibri is my favorite. Select all text, change the font to your choice, then adjust the font sizes to bring attention to certain items.
6. Font Size. Overall, you want your resume to be easily readable to all. Generally, fonts 10-12 are acceptable, although I find 10 in most fonts too small. Again, I recommend Calibri 11 for most of the resume. It's easily readable for most generations. Do NOT be tempted to make the font smaller to fit your resume onto fewer pages! Spend some time reducing the word volume. Remember my Mark Twain mantra, "If I had more time, it would be shorter."
Convert your resume to Calibri 11 (or Arial or Times New Roman). Here are my recommended adjustments:
Name. At the very top of your resume, use all caps, bold and font size14.
Headers. This is for the words preceding each section (Summary, Work Experience, Education). I like to see them centered and reduced to font size 10. After all, these headers are simply used as a reading guide. We don't want to draw attention to them. We want the reader to notice our accomplishments.
The above are the only time I change font size on resumes I write. Of course, you have your own preferences. These are simply guidelines and my recommendations. The only other embellishments I'd use in formatting is to bold the following: Company name, titles, total years of employment, degrees, publication titles, and certifications, all in the same size font as the rest of the resume.
That's it! You've now got all 10 of my commandments. Yes, there are lots of views about resumes. That's what makes them somewhat of an art. But remember, while it's YOUR resume, it's written for the RECRUITER and HIRING MANAGER, not you. Present it in such a way that the reader wants to keep reading, and ultimately, wants to call you in for an interview.