Resume Writing Styles

Your resume format builds structure in your resume and makes it easy for an interviewer to read and follow your resume. Resume style is the design of your page that makes it pop out of the pile and encourages your employer to read it.

Resumes styles can be informal (#1), creative (#2) or conventional (#3). Tailor your resume style to the position for which you are applying, but also allow your resume style to introduce your personality and the creativity you’ll bring to the job.

Resume style elements include:

Paper: Use white paper, black text. First, colored paper is inappropriate for a professional document. Although you want your resume to stand out from the crowd, colored paper stands out in a negative way, making you appear manipulative and pushy.

Columns: One, two, or three? Choose a number of columns based on how you want your resume to read. One column resumes, of course, read top to bottom (e.g. Heading, Sub-heading, bulleted list).

However, even if you want a one-column look, you may find it to your advantage to use a two or three column table for some of your information to be sure white space adequately separates different facts. All you need do to preserve the “look” is hide the gridlines. (See resume style sample #1). Although the single column resume used to be the conventional layout, employers today generally prefer a two column resume style.

Two column resumes, styled with headings to the left, are usually easier to follow, especially if your resume contains a good deal of information. Two columns also provide more opportunity to be creative with shadings, lines, and fonts. (See resume style sample #2)

Three column resumes generally are used only to balance your resume text and should appear to be single column or two-column resumes when printed. (See resume style sample #3)

Fonts: The type and size of font you use not only adds to your resume style, but determines how easy your resume is to read. Although fonts come in thousands of styles, there are really only two types of acceptable business fonts:

  • Serif fonts: Those with feet like Times Roman, Bookman, and Georgia.
  • Sans serif fonts: Those with no feet like Arial, Tahoma, and Verdana.

Although, sans serif fonts are easy to read on the screen, usually serif fonts are easier to read in print. One way to emphasize headings is to use a different font style than you use in your resume body. For instance, a sans-serif font for headings and a serif font for the body.

You should limit font size in your resume body to either 10 or 12 points and heading size to 12 or 14 points. If you need more emphasis for some areas of your resume, use shadings, underlines, bold text, or italic text. Most importantly, be consistent with your font choices and styles.

    Tip: Before settling on fonts, print some sample copy using a few different font types to see what your resume will look like in print.

Text alignment: Refrain from centering or right aligning your resume text. Justified text is acceptable, however be aware that often justified text may leave unexpected spaces. Resumes styled with left-aligned text and bulleted lists are easy to read and maintain a clean, professional look.

Bulleted lists: Emphasize skills and areas of achievement with bulleted lists. Standard bullets include the disc , the circle, and the square , however many symbols will serve as bullets. What ever type of bullet style you choose, keep the look professional and consistent throughout your resume.

Graphical elements: Shading, vertical or horizontal lines, and table cells can be useful in adding extra appropriate style to your resume. Refrain from using pictures. Your goal is to build a paper that is totally relevant to the job at hand. Use graphical elements to separate sections or information and draw attention to the unique talents and skills you have to offer to your prospective employer.

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