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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Résumé Format- Sink or Swim

I just booked a client who had been tinkering with their résumé, even after another writer had worked on it.

The result? A rather busy mess that actually sounded pretty good once I got past the entire jumble. The key was that I had to really focus hard on trying to get past the confusing design elements to get to the 'meat' of what he was presenting.

No employer is going to want to take a lot of time to navigate messily-laid out résumés. Either you ‘hook’ an employer in the first six seconds, or you don’t, and a lot of that has to do not only with what you say, but how you lay it out in this document.

Apparently, this person has been sending the document out for the past six months with no results… and I have a very good idea as to why that job seeker hasn’t gotten any responses!

Sleek, clean résumés that have the right amount of aesthetic white space are innately more attractive to readers. Getting the proper look and feel takes a bit of spatial panache... and not everyone who is a good writer has a good grasp of graphics, and vice versa.

Some tips to remember when designing a résumé is to remember this: What are the major categories of information that you are presenting? Each category below should be considered a different ‘block’ of information, so these are natural breakpoints in terms of design elements (so you can break them out separately):

1) Contact info
2) Positioning statement
3) Career expertise (skill set)
4) Professional Experience or Relevant History
5) Education
6) Affiliations / Involvement

Creating space between each one of these blocks helps alert the reader that the previous section is now complete and that you are moving on.

Other things to consider when designing a résumé include the type of font you are using, the size of font, and consistent formatting throughout the document. That includes things like if you begin listing your work experience like this:

Supersmart University – Washington, D.C.
Research Assistant, 1994-1999

Every design element remains the same that you would use for listing subsequent jobs – including the different types of dashes, italicizing the job title, and including the state (or district) abbreviation.

Little things do matter, and if you end up not thoroughly going through this document and standardizing how you present information, or even have multiple types of fonts that don’t mesh well, your entire résumé can come across as distracted, unprofessional, and quite unappetizing to prospective employers.

By working to build an efficient use of space within your résumé, and combining clear, concise and accomplishments-oriented statements, you have just boosted your chances of making it to the interview pile!

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