Resume Format

by Fred Pinnegar, Resume Coach and Professional Writer

The resume is nearly always sent with a cover letter as part of the complete job application package. The purpose of the resume is to convince a potential employer that you are the right person for the job. This is done by rapidly summarizing your most relevant educational background and work experience in a resume format that is quick and easy to read.

Resume Format Guidelines

  1. Your resume should look neat and professional. Avoid gimmicks that will detract from the content. One-page resumes are the general rule, but individuals with more experience or professionals within certain fields typically require more than one page to adequately convey necessary information.
  2. The typeface you use should be easily readable. Avoid ornate, decorative, or script type.
  3. Use quality paper for reproduction and keep colors in soft, professional tones.
  4. Leave at least 1 inch margins at the top, bottom, and sides of the document. The general rule of spacing is single space within sections and double-space between. Avoid large gaps of dead white space.
  5. Use visual strategies to make the resume quick and easy to skim or read: itemization, indentation, and use of spacing and headings. Use side headings rather than centering them, and set off headings through the use of all caps and bolding.
  6. Do not send a photograph or discuss race, religion, sex, age, height, weight, or marital status unless such information is a necessary qualification of the job for which you are applying.
  7. Organize material in all categories using inverse chronological order, with the most recent information first, or conversely, put the most important information first.
  8. Use noun and verb phrases rather than complete sentences. Use parallel structure and action verbs in itemized lists. For example, here is an itemized list of duties and responsibilities for an assistant sales manager at a clothing store:
    • Supervised activities of all salespeople
    • Enforced security
    • Modeled latest fashions
    • Designed and prepared clothing displays
    • Deposited daily receipts
    • Opened and closed store
  9. Spell check the resume and have a knowledgeable person proofread it to catch typos and errors in grammar, syntax, usage, spelling, and punctuation. Your resume must be flawless.

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