It can be hard to separate style from substance—especially where resumes are concerned. Indeed, the way your resume looks can be just as important as what it says, either providing readability or detracting from it; either suggesting professionalism or undermining it. It’s important to put thought into the style of your resume—and to ensure the stylistic choices you’re making help rather than hinder.
But what exactly does that entail? Allow us to offer a few basic pointers.
Your Resume Font
First, let’s talk font. This is an area where your aim is to be professional and to make your resume easy to read—not to be creative, clever, or outside-the-box. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, because doing so may result in a resume that just doesn’t look respectable.
The fonts we recommend are Calibri, Helvetica, and Cambria. Times New Roman and Arial are also fine—definitely not flashy, but they get the job done.
As for font size, 10 and 12 are the two levels we recommend. Anything smaller is hard to read; anything larger makes it seem like you’re trying to accommodate for limited content.
What About Bolding?
Another matter to consider is bolding. The long and short of it: You should use bolding sparingly to emphasize section headers, company or job titles, degrees, or awards. You don’t want to use bolding any more than that, though. This is one of those stylistic flourishes where a little bit goes a long way.
One of the main roles of your resume style should be improving readability—and that means making sure your resume isn’t merely a long string of unbroken text. You should have clearly defined sections, and lots of white space.
Two ways to do that include using bullet points—especially in your Core Competencies and Employment History sections—and inserting horizontal lines to show where one section ends and the next begins.
Your Resume Margins
Here, we’ll just make a quick point: You don’t want to mess with your margins too much. A tiny tweak to better fit your resume content is alright, but too much monkeying with your margins will make the whole thing look odd, outside the norm. Plus: You run the risk of a recruiter scanning/printing your resume and parts of it being cut off.
Pictures on Your Resume?
A final consideration: Should you include graphics, tables, charts, or images anywhere on your resume? There’s an easy answer: No. It’s not needed, and it’s not professional. Just avoid these elements altogether.
The stylistic choices you make matter very much—and if you need further help ensuring your resume looks good, we’d love to offer it. Contact the Grammar Chic resume writing team at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.
Amanda E. Clark founded Grammar Chic in 2008. She is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and holds degrees in Journalism, Political Science, and English. She launched Grammar Chic after freelancing for several years while simultaneously leading marketing and advertising initiatives for several Fortune 500 companies.