It is not a secret that hiring authorities don't read resumes and cover letters. No matter how many hours you spend on writing those documents, the initial look of decision makers will take no more than 10-15 seconds. That may well be all the time your resume will have to capture the attention of those reviewing it. With that being said, it is important to structure your resume in a way that would make it easy for employers to skim your resume in search of needed information. You may have polished up the content to perfection, but if the document is poorly formatted it is unlikely a recruiter will ever get the chance to read all of those things about you. The way hiring authorities and recruiters approach resume selection should be an important factor in writing and formatting one's resume.
Formatting Tricks to Make it More Skimmable
You may be surprised to know but for hiring managers, there is a huge difference between a resume that is easy to skim and the one that looks cluttered (without even considering the actual content of the documents of course). Making it readable (or rather skimmable) is as important as perfecting one's sections and bullet points on a resume. Who cares if you've got a great resume if is tossed to the discard pile in a matter of seconds after it is reviewed because of poor readability? Keep in mind, your main marketing document has got maximum 15 seconds to make that first impression. If those seconds are spent on finding information, the chances are high you will not be invited for an interview. There will likely be a candidate or two who will think about it in advance and submit well-structured (easy-to-skim) resumes.
- Don't center it all. Some job seekers think it looks better if all information is centered on a resume. However, the eye naturally starts with the left margin once it is ready to move on to the new line of information. Even subheadings could be aligned to the left.
- The same font size rule. To ensure good readability of your resume, your font size should be the same throughout the document. The exception can only be your name which should be a little bit bigger to stand out. For a better emphasis of specific facts, you can use bolding or italics.
- First four-five words matter the most! When reviewing your resume, hiring managers will likely just read first four or five words of a bullet statement to move on to the next line.Your task then is to make sure the beginning of each and every bullet statement is strong so that employers would want to keep reading.
- Keep your bullets short. The rule of a thumb is not to go over 2 lines as it will appear too long otherwise. And don't try to substitute bullets with paragraphs - it will only make things look worse.
- Use digits when possible. Instead of writing "sixty seven percent" type "67%" - it will make your resume easier to skim as well as it will save valuable space for other important information.
- Be consistent. Try to be consistent when formatting your resume. No matter how hard you want to squeeze everything into 1 page, don't change the formatting. It will help recruiters refer back to something without any efforts as they will know where to look.
- White space is important. There should be some white space on your resume to make the document more skimmable and less overwhelming. Different portions of white space usually signal to the potential employer when the new section starts. Besides, it is much easier on the eye too when there is enough of white space.