Choose the right resume format for your job search

Before you even get a seat at the interviewing table, you need a well-polished, highly professional resume. When you’re writing a resume, you need to be mindful of your audience, your industry, and your intended results. Here are five tips to help you choose the right resume format for your job search.

  • KISS … seriously

You’re already challenged to translate what you’ve done in the military into civilian-friendly language. The last thing you need to do is overly complicate your resume. Pay attention to the format of your resume and make sure it’s able to be read by both a hiring manager or an online applicant tracking system (ATS). An ATS works best when reading simple text instead of overly complicated formatting. But if the ATS can’t read your resume, it might not ever make it to the hiring manager’s desk.

Make sure your name and contact info stands out from the rest of the resume. The last thing you want is for a hiring manager to have to hunt to find out how to contact you.

Consistency matters on a resume. This is an extension of your professional self, so make sure you spend time carefully editing and polishing it. If headers are formatted in bold in one section of your resume, make sure you follow that formatting for the entire document.

  • Fonts, colors, and headers

Use a basic font and size it between 10 and 12 to make it easy to read. You might want to make your text small so that you can include more details, but that’s not wise. Brevity wins the day with a resume, so make it short, concise, and to the point.

Never use color on a resume. Unless you’re applying for a very creative position, black text is the only color to use. Other colors are distracting and might not make it past the ATS. If you’re applying to a graphic design or advertising position, where resume layout and design might be part of your initial assessment, your potential new employer might want to see a little creativity. But no matter which font you select, make sure it’s readable.

There is some flexibility with section headers – you can make their bold or slightly larger than the rest of your text.

  • Length – cutting and trimming

An employer has expectations on the length of your resume, and this will vary widely based on industry. A good rule of thumb is to keep it at one page or less so the hiring manager or ATS can scan it all at once. There’s a high likelihood that your resume might be printed and reviewed by several people so having a one-page document decreases the chances that other pertinent information gets lost. If a job requires extensive experience, it’s a good idea to include all of your applicable positions, and that might mean your resume is longer than one page. Don’t let it get too unruly though; the longer the resume, the less likely a hiring manager is to read all of it.

To cut and trim your resume, try to use keywords from the application. This helps increase your chances of making it past the first cut. Matching your qualifications to the job is especially useful. It allows you to piece together the most relevant work experience into a shorter version.

Resumes are your first impression to your potential employer, so take the time to send out the best version possible.

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