How to Organize Your Resume: Formatting Tips

A resume is as unique as the person it represents. Keeping your resume organized and functional while still having an interesting format is a delicate balance. Although there are many different resume formats out there, following a few basic guidelines will ensure that your resume is the most informative while being easy to read.

Keep Your Resume to One or Two Pages

First and foremost, your resume should only be two pages maximum, with very few exceptions (an academic CV, for example, will be much longer). But 95% of the time, the resume needs to stay at two pages. If you are having trouble keeping it to a single page, but don’t have enough for two full pages, look for irrelevant or older information to cut out. Be sure you are not wasting any space as well – you can adjust your margins, font size, and spacing to save room. If you have a second page, try to fill the page completely.

Place Your Contact Information at the Top

You do not need to label your document “resume” or include any other information before your name and contact information. Some format styles have the name at the top and contact info at the bottom – we want the contact info to be as accessible as possible, so the best format would be to place it all at the top together.

Line Up All Dates on the Right

To organize your work experience, education, and other sections on the resume, move all dates to the right side of the page. The easiest way to ensure these dates are lined up is to use the feature in Microsoft Word called tab stops. If you have never used that feature before, Microsoft Help has a great tutorial on them. Organizing the dates on the right side of the document will help to save space.

Organize from Most to Least Relevant

After your contact information and summary, everything else on the resume should be listed from most relevant to least relevant. If you are a new graduate, your education will likely be higher on the resume than someone who has been working in their industry for several years. Remember that relevance can include industry-specific experience as well as transferable experience such as leadership positions.

Keeping your resume neat and easy to read will make it easier for the employer or recruiter to see your qualifications. The ideal resume has a careful balance between formatting, organization, and content.

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