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Top 10 Résumé Formatting Tips

Be consistent in your format. Choose a chronological, functional, combination or a targeted résumé format. Select the format that will best relate your experience to your job target. Don’t copy someone else’s résumé format. Since each job seeker’s career history, accomplishments and academic credentials are unique; their résumé format should be as well.

resume formatting


Ensure you prioritize the content of your résumé so that your relevant experience is listed first! It’s imperative to prioritize the content of your résumé; so that you list your most important and relevant experience first. In addition, it’s essential to list your key accomplishments at the top of each position. List your accomplishment by importance and relevance to the position you’re targeting.


Use one-inch margins. Ensure to use one-inch margins across the top, bottom and sides of your résumé document. Even if you are sending your résumé via email, since it will likely be printed out. The bigger margins will be quicker to read, and you want the hiring manager to read it! The human eye can read short line-lengths faster than long spans of text. This is why newspapers use columns that are a few inches wide!


Pick a typeface that’s easy to read and avoid nontraditional fonts. standard type styles such as Times New Roman or Arial. Don’t use different font styles. Keep your résumé uniform. If you feel the need to call attention to something, you can bold it. Use only one font for the entire résumé. You may vary the size for emphasis. Use 12-point font size and no smaller than 10 point. Try to avoid all-capital letters and italics as they are difficult to read. By using a universal font, it will ensure the potential employers will be able to read your résumé correctly if you are emailing your career documents.


Use numbers wherever possible, numbers make your résumé stand out for the reader! When expressing numbers in your résumé document, write out all numbers between one and nine (i.e., five, two, one), but use numerals for all numbers 10 and above (i.e., 10, 35, 104). When starting a sentence with a number, spell out the number (i.e., twelve performance awards won while employed.). Ensure your dates are consistent with each other (i.e., 10/31/12 or October 31, 2012 or 10.31.12. Decide on one and stick with it.

Spell out words

Always spell out the words “and” and “percent”. The “&” and “%” signs cause problems for some Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. (i.e., reduced turnover by 50 percent.).

Action Verbs

Use action verbs. Incorporate action or performance verbs to describe your accomplishments and duties. Use words such as (supervised, coordinated, developed, trained, etc.) Ensure to write the verb in the correct tense. It’s present tense if you are currently doing the job. It’s past tense if you have completed the job.

Spell Check

Ensure your grammar, spelling, punctuation is correct. —don’t rely on “spell check”! Pay attention to details when writing your résumé. When you are writing a résumé, it's easy to utilize spell-check and it should be easy to pick up the obvious typos. However, it’s not always easy to pick up on the grammatical errors. Hiring managers view the misspelling of words on your résumé as sloppy and careless. It implies how you will do your job for them if they hire you. One misspelled word can hurt your chances when it comes to your career documents. Use spell-check to avoid getting your résumé thrown in the trash pile!


Use bullet format. Bullets typically work when you have a lot of accomplishments and ideas to present. By utilizing bullets this allows you to present your information in a way that the reader will get to know you quickly. You want the reader to invest in a specific section of your résumé in order to comprehend it. You have to remember, you are not writing the résumé for yourself, but rather for the reader. Attempt to make it easy for the reader to get to know you and what you have to offer!

Marketing YOU

Your résumé is a marketing tool....and you are the PRODUCT! Make your résumé look original. Make sure your document is neat and professional. Hiring managers will notice a résumé if it’s organized neatly and professionally. Your résumé is a marketing brochure, so make sure it's visually appealing to the reader!

Photo Credit: Mary

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