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Top five formatting mistakes you must avoid when revising your resume

All the recommendations and information below may not apply to your resume, however it should give you a better understanding of what employers are looking for and how to best market your skills for the position of interest.

As you know, potential employers rarely take the time to read resumes thoroughly. Statistics show that employers spend a max 10-15 seconds scanning a résumé to determine the candidate’s fit before they decide to keep or toss. Many factors in addition to experience come into play in making sure your résumé makes it to the “keep” pile. This can include:

Formatting: an eye-catching presentation can make a huge impression vs. one that looks and blends in with the others, or one riddled with formatting inconsistencies. If your résumé looks like the rest, it may be hard to distinguish it from the rest.

Formatting mistakes can include: 

A: Usage of too many font styles

B: Inconsistency in layout, use of indents, tabs, font style, bullet style, punctuation, and spacing

C: Too small page margins. Page margins should be minimum 0.6”

D: Incorrect use of white space. White space is your friend and can be used to emphasize and deemphasize information. If you remove all available white space, then your résumé looks like a page of block text – difficult to read and certainly not getting the information across quickly.

E: Overuse of bold, italics, underlines, etc. Note: do not use underlines – this can distort your information when scanned into an Applicant Tracking System (APS). 

Make sure before you start revising your resume, you keep all of these tips in mind. The content is once they read it, but to ensure they read it in the first place, you must follow these formatting guidelines.

Hallie Crawford and Jasmine Marchong
Certified Career Coach

P.S. How do you know if your resume is good? Take this Resume Quiz to find out how to keep your resume out of the trash can.