Shortly after arriving at college, I found myself applying to jobs and internships. Throughout this process, I must have written at least ten different versions of my resume, gradually improving features that didn’t work. I have finally arrived at the final version of which I am quite satisfied with. I feel that it works extremely well, and I have yet to see any other better template, so I would like to share with you why this makes such a good resume.
Now I am strictly talking about the resume’s format only, not at all the content. Different occupations hold different qualifications as more important than others which will definitely affect what you want to include in your resume.
I realized that writing your resume is a lot like designing a web site. Think of it as a personal online web site that you would like to share with someone in a hard copy form. There are specific reasons for the design features of websites, and they can be directly related to a resume. With that said, here are my thoughts.
All resumes need a “header” section. The main purpose of this section is to identifiy who this piece of paper is classifiying. Given that, there are two key things to keep in mind.
Make it large.
Make your name large. No I’m not saying like size 18pt font. Make it size 30pt. The purpose of this is that the HR recruiter will be flipping through a huge stack of papers and this enables them to notice or to quickly find your resume. Like I said, the main purpose of your resume is to identify you and this should be the first step.
Keep it clean.
With regards to the header, all we want is relevant information. Put your name and basic contact information and that’s it. Phone and email should be enough. Some people include their addresses, which I think is completely unnecessary. Come on, we live in the digital age! You think the recruiter will mail you a notice to set up an interview with you?
Now that we have the reader’s attention on who we are, lets move on to telling them more. Given the small amount of space on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, we have to efficiently utilize that space. Shortening and removing irrelevant information is a must, but we can do much more than that. Let’s talk about organization.
What I found the most efficient way to organize the body of your resume is to think “sections.” All website are divided into different sections to allow for simple navigation in order for the viewer to quickly gather the information they are seeking. Following this design principle for your resume is also crucial. We want to help the reader navigate the resume with ease so they aren’t overwhelmed with all the information in front of them. If they want to find your GPA, they should be able to do it in a second and no more. Sectioning off your essay with bold titles and ample amounts of spacing will allow them to do so. Make it clear so that they can circle areas on your paper and label it with a specific category: school, work experience, projects, etc. It also provides a cleaner appearance, making your resume much more appealing and professional.
One thing I learned from designing websites is that people hate reading blocks of text. They much rather read from a nicely spaced-out list than a short paragraph. This applies to resumes also. Instead of cramming several ideas and combining them into long sentences, break them apart into a bulleted list. Not only will this make the reader more willing to read your resume, but it will also help them understand each point better.
I cannot stress how important font choice is. I’ve seen resumes using such an atrocious font that I wouldn’t be surprised that the recruiter just completely skipped over the resume. Stick with Helvetica or Arial. Blocky fonts makes text so much easier to read than curlier fonts. Try it out for yourself. Also, don’t make the font size too small. Personally, I’d stay above 9pt if possible, but it depends on the resume too.
These may be small details, but they are powerful ones. Incorporating these design changes can completely change the feel and appearance of a resume. They definitely did for me as I iteratively updated my resume. Here’s the final product for you to see!