Select a common typestyle. When you send your resume to a recruiter by attaching to an email, you want to select a typestyle that is readable on both Windows and Mac operating systems. This is critical because a typestyle that is not resident on the viewer’s system will convert that fancy script you used for your name to courier, which is plain typewriter text. A number of typestyles that meet this requirement are Arial, Times New Roman, Book Antiqua and Tahoma. Watch type size also. Most typestyles are readable at 10 pts.—except Times New Roman—which should be no smaller than 11 pts.
Make your name apparent but not unreasonably so. Your name is important to you—not so much to a recruiter. For that reason, you will want to use a type size that is somewhat larger than the body text of the resume, but not significantly so. Using bold type is fine, but you don’t want to bold a type that is already bold because you will distort the typeface.
Use a header or footer on the second page. If your resume is longer than one page, remember to include your name and a page number on the second page, preferably in a header or footer. Nothing screams louder that you don’t know how to use Word (the standard in today’s business offices) than a header or footer that prints halfway down (or up) the second page.
Leave some white space. Recruiters and hiring managers may want to make notes on your resume. Provide a border of at least an inch on the sides; margins can be narrower on the top and bottom. When using paragraphs, keep to 5 or 6 lines; more lines than that will be daunting for recruiters (who may be reviewing hundreds of resumes) to read.
Less is more. Visually stunning resumes usually aren’t necessary—even for graphic artists. What impacts employers is your VALUE. Just because you can make the resume fancy doesn’t mean that you should. Make sure your document is clean, neat and, above all, readable. If you use bold type, you don’t need to underline that to add emphasis. Use special features sparingly. Carefully decide what should have the most emphasis, and avoid using more than two or three type sizes (or typestyles) throughout your document. Remember to be consistent. If you used small caps for the first employer, then all employers should be formatted the same way. If you used 8 pts. of vertical space between your first employer and your title, you want to use the same spacing for subsequent employers and positions.
Watch length. No rule of thumb here other than length is determined by the nature of your background and the amount of experience. If you’ve held multiple roles in the same company or in a number of companies, your resume will be longer. If you’ve done roughly the same thing at multiple companies, you want to avoid repeating the same information over and over. You only need to describe the job once. If your employers are in different industries, you may gain some benefit by describing each briefly, e.g., Global provider of logistics solutions with 800 employees and $5 billion in annual revenue; or Vertically integrated petrochemical company with worldwide drilling and refining operations.
Impact. Avoid mixing job duties (responsibilities) and achievements. This is a very common error that dilutes impact. Provide a brief job description to give an idea of the complexity of your work. Then use bullet items to highlight achievements or accomplishments. Using a PAR (Problem, Action, Result) or CCAR (Challenge, Context, Action, Result) format to explain achievements maximizes impact.
Responsible for. No one cares. Employers want to know what you did and what you achieved. Where and how did you add value? Use action words—verbs—to show what you do or did.
Watch tenses. If you did something in the past, you need to use past tense. If you are currently doing something, that needs to be expressed in present tense. Don’t forget to change present to past tense for your last employer once you have moved on.
Write in first person. This is writing with “I” understood, as in “Guided the data warehousing effort for an industry leading multibillion financial services firm.” If you say “Guides the data warehousing effort for . . .,” then you are using third person, as if promoting another person. If you are writing your own resume, you are talking about yourself, and your resume needs to reflect that.
Ellie Vargo, MRW, CCMC