5 MUST-HAVES When Formatting your Resume

5 MUST-HAVES When Formatting your Resume

Hello and Happy Friday!

I mentioned a while back how I wanted to start publishing more career focused content. I am passionate about empowering women in the workforce, providing resources, sharing career stories/advice, etc. and would love to transition The Chic Word in that direction. I know personally I LOVE reading blogs or websites that are dedicated to working women.

However, I myself am still new to the corporate environment, with only several years behind me. I still have a lot to learn. With that being said, what I do know, I am willing to share! I thought to start with I would provide some useful information related to resume writing and formatting.

What many of you don’t know is that in my old position, part of my job was to review resumes, make edits/adjustments if needed, and design resumes for those who really needed a refresh.

I have worked on over 150 resumes, with a hiring rate of 90%. In fact, one of my clients actually came back to me after getting hired stating that their hiring manager said her resume was the best resume he had ever seen cross his desk. Not to brag, but I had created her entire resume, so pats on the back to me!

With all that being said, resumes are tricky. A lot of people don’t know where to begin… If that sounds like you, read on.

I believe that the content in a resume is just as valuable as how it is presented.

According to Monster.com, “The first thing a potential employer will notice about your resume is the layout.”

I have complied 5 things that are important to take note of when designing and formatting your resume.

1. Spacing

Spacing is HUGE! If you have too many words on a resume, without any line breaks, or any distinction– NO ONE WILL READ IT. Sad, but TRUE.

How you space your various sections is important. You want to make sure that you have enough white space so that your resume is simple to read, easy to find the valuable information, and doesn’t look too crowded or too sparse.

If you are someone with limited experience, creating more space is helpful to make your resume look more full. On the opposite side of that, if you have lots of good experience, but are not presenting it in a way that easy to read, then it basically is useless. There are tons of little ways you can format and space your resume to help the reader digest your information. I will show you an example of a poorly spaced resume versus a well-spaced resume…

I just found these on doing a quick Google search. Both have some serious errors, but notice how the spacing makes reading this resume really tough. You cannot scan easily for the important information. You want a recruiter to be able to pinpoint your education, experience, skills, etc. within a few seconds.

Here is an example of a resume that has pretty good spacing (again, this resume has a lot of work that needs to be done, but in terms of spacing notice how it is much easier to read)

2. Font

Just like spacing, you want your font to be easy to read.

Whether you choose a sans-serif or serif font, or both (my personal favorite) you want to make sure that the font is legible and professional. Classics like Times New Roman and Arial will always be a go-to when choosing your resume font. Here are some other favorites of mine if you want to opt for something a bit more unique…



I am partial to serif fonts. To me them seem smart and a bit old-school, which I like. However, sans-serif fonts can be just as professional, and some consider a bit more modern. Choosing a font that is professional and fits your personality is important.

In addition, you have TONS of options when it comes to how you display your content. Between font styles, sizes, etc. you can really make your resume look above and beyond with just a few clicks of your mouse.

Things to consider:
Regular, bold, italic, size, height, spacing of letters, all caps, small caps

Small caps tends to be a favorite of mine, because it just adds in a little something unique without being overpowering.

Here’s an example of small caps:

As I mentioned before, my go-to is mixing two fonts, usually a serif and sans-serif together in one resume. You can use just one font if you’d like, but make sure you are switching up the styling of that font a bit. Or, if you decide to add in a third, I’d suggest using the third font exclusively for your name. (More on that later)

Here is a little example of some ways you can use multiple fonts and styles in your resume.

3. Name

Your name is VITAL. It is the first thing that someone will read and you want to make sure they remember it, or at the very least don’t look over it or miss it.

I have seen some resumes where the person’s name was in size 12 font. That is a NO-NO! The entire resume was size 12 font as well, so how is anyone supposed to distinguish the name from everything else?

I like to make the name POP. It’s the one place where you really can get a bit more creative, especially if your industry is more straight-laced corporate. It can work because generally your name tends to be two words, maybe three if you add in your middle name or maiden name, etc.

A couple ways to spice up your name include:
Using a more unique or bold font, making your name take up most of the header space, bolding your last name or bolding the first letter of each of your names, you can also consider where you align your name (left, center, right), and can always play out with the spacing of your letters.

All these little things will just bring more attention to your name and help your resume stand out from the crowd.

Here are just a couple examples:

4. Length

No one wants to spend too much time reading a resume. It’s just the truth. Our attention spans are short, most recruiters have a huge stack of resumes to go through, and despite how proud you are of your background, not everyone is interested in every little detail.

Keeping your resume under a page is the goal. Especially if you are under 30.

Now, there are some exceptions. Obviously, you don’t want to keep off your greatest accomplishments or critical jobs. A good practice I follow when working on a resume is this: If your resume is one full page and a couple sentences of a second page, it is time to reformat your resume.

If your resume is one full page and a full half or more of a second page, then I am open to it. You want to make sure that the information you have is worthwhile, and often times I will do a bit more reformatting to fill the pages in an easy reading format.

Remember, you also have your LinkedIn profile, which you should be linking anyways. Your LinkedIn can provide a lot more information about previous jobs, the skills you have, etc. In addition, you could provide a cover letter, which could expand even further on your experience. So, just keep all of this in mind when you are deciding what to put on your resume.

Lastly, when it comes to length, you want a hiring manger to want something more, to have a reason to contact to, right? I talked to a recruiter once who said that if they got all their information from a resume, without having any questions then most likely she wouldn’t follow up with them.

Now, that was only one recruiter, but it does make sense. You can’t explain your entire career in one or even two pages. You also want a hiring manager to be able to ask you questions about your experience and resume in the interview. Another reason that you can leave some stuff off, so you’ll have something to keep them interested in and to discuss with you when it comes time for that face to face.

5. Border

You know at Christmas when you see two gifts, one is wrapped up in a pretty bow and one either has no bow or isn’t done very well? Which one are you more drawn too? It tends to be the pretty bow, right? A resume is just the same. A border is your bow.

Adding a border to your resume is SUPER EASY and steps up any resume, in my opinion. It just looks more polished, more complete.

There are some resumes that DO NOT need a border. Because sometimes a border can make a resume appear like too much is happening on the page. However, more often than not adding a border will put the finishing touch to all your hard work. So, I would highly suggest you play around with it.

So, that’s a wrap on my resume formatting tips that I think everyone should consider when drafting their resume. They are all very simple things you can do to elevate your resume.

I have a few other blog posts in this resume series that I will be sharing over the next month or so. So, don’t worry– more will be revealed!

If you need any help with your resume, have questions, or want me to look over something, let me know in the comments below!

Cheers & stay chic!