Writing Your Resume? Don’t Get Fancy
Over the last several years, resumes have gotten quite the makeover. And it’s not just professional resume writers spiffing up their clients’ documents. Regular professionals have decided to take their resumes to the next level with formatting, graphics, tables, charts, and more.
But this swing towards the fancy resume might actually hurt your chances of landing the job. “Try reading your resume on your phone,” recommends executive resume writer Donna Svei in her article on fancy resumes. “If you don’t like the experience, then neither will recruiters and hiring managers.”
Yes, you read that correctly: the majority of hiring managers (about 60%) are now reading resumes on their phones, either in addition to or instead of on their computers. Documents that contain extra style elements, graphics, or other non-basic content may be difficult, if not impossible, to read on a phone.
These fancy formatting options can also make it difficult for applicant tracking systems (where your resume goes when you apply online) to read your resume, which means those systems won’t be able to see your keywords and related skills, and won’t send your resume onto the next step—being reviewed by a human hiring manager.
In the process of writing your resume? To make sure your resume is readable rather than fancy, follow these guidelines:
1. Keep your colors, fonts, and formatting simple.
Svei recommends avoiding the following:
Sidebars and pullouts
Watermark-like background images
2. Use a sans-serif font.
“Sans-serif” literally means “without serifs,” which are the little, extended strokes at the ends of letters. Times New Roman is a serif font, whereas Arial is not. Serif fonts tend to be more difficult to read on screens, which is why we recommend you don’t use them on your resume.
Some great options for sans-serif fonts are Calibri, Helvetica, Trebuchet MS, Tahoma, Verdana, and Gill Sans MT.
Keep in mind that not everyone’s word processing software of choice will include every font, so either choose a widely available font like Calibri or be sure to send a PDF of your resume, which will maintain your font choice no matter where the resume is read.
3. Use columns or sidebars sparingly.
Creating these separate spaces on your resume can make it harder for humans to read on mobile phones and for applicant tracking systems to scan.
What are you using columns or sidebars for? What sort of information are you trying to convey in them? Is there another way to portray that information, perhaps a simple list, bullet points, or in a paragraph?
4. Don’t use pre-formatted templates.
Microsoft Word and other document software programs offer resume templates that let you add your information to a pre-formatted document. These templates tend to use space poorly, they involve too many style elements, and they are very difficult to customize and change to your needs.
You’re much better off formatting your own resume using these simple style guidelines.
5. Look at your resume on your phone!
Have you ever opened your resume document on your phone to see what it looks like? As a certified resume writer, I will begrudgingly admit that I only did this within the last year. It’s an eye-opening experience. You’ll see immediately what you’re doing well and what you need to improve.
Be sure to look at your resume in different file formats such as .doc and PDF to get the full picture of what you’re putting out into the world.
No resume will look perfect on a phone, but using simpler formatting and fewer design elements will make it much easier for recruiters and hiring managers to scan your resume and find your best qualifications and attributes fast. And that’s the ultimate goal of your resume, right? Right!
If you’re hoping to land a remote job specifically, check out our webinar on writing your resume for remote jobs!