Proper Resume Formatting

2014-09-10 by admin

There is always a great deal of discussion regarding the best way to format a resume. Much of this decision will lie in finding the layout that works best for your particular experience, education and the role that you are seeking. Proper resume formatting may also be dictated by whether you intend to present a “chronological resume”, a “targeted resume”, a “combination resume” or a “functional resume”. However, there are some general formatting rules:

Clear fonts – avoid fancy fonts when writing your resume. This is even more important to day as you will often be sending them via email or uploading them to a website. You should use standard True Type fonts (Times New Roman, Garamond or Arial) and your font face should not be less than 11 point (12 point or 14 point is a good choice);

Layout – Your layout is critical to make your resume legible. Headers (often times done in bold) such as “Employment History”, “Educational Background”, “Award and Honors” should be put before each resume section. These should “capture” the appropriate information for the category. They may be centered for clarity and may also be one type face above the rest of your text if you wish;

Style – Your resume may be left justified or to give it a more uniform look, you may elect for “justified” which will insert blank spaces to “fill in” so that the line will cover the entire page from margin to margin. Just a reminder that using “justified” may not translate well if you are submitting your resume online. All online resumes should be left justified and avoid the use of tabs. Another concern about “justified” is that your resume could give the appearance of not having enough “white space”;

Special effects – Except for headers and company names, avoid using special effects such as “bold”, “italic” or “underlined”. These will take away from the “clean” look you want for your resume.

There are some things that you should avoid when laying out your resume:

A) If you are concerned about being judged by your age, it is appropriate to put in employment and school history without dates. This can also be helpful if you have held multiple jobs at the same time, or if you have changed jobs several times in a short period of time;

B) Avoid non-action statements in explanations about your job roles. Do not say “the job involved” instead discuss “I was able to” statements for the positions;

C) You may want to avoid listing repetitive positions individually. For example, if your last two jobs were each five years and both were sales manager positions, you may want to consider combining them into one entry (this is especially true if you have a long work history);

D) Do not spell out every training class you have ever taken by name, instead “group” them by type of training. For example, “Sales Management Training Classes (4)” works far better than “Sales Manager Training at X company” (followed by a list of 3 additional companies);

E) Do not include references on your resume, instead include “References available on request” (and make sure you have them ready to submit).


Laying out a resume can be a daunting task. There are several ways that you can elect to lay out your resume. Proper resume formatting means a clean layout that offers “white” space to the reader and sufficient information for the reader to want to invite you for an interview.