5 Tips for Writing a Readable Resume

The Devil is in the Details – and the Design

The job search is on! You find a few that you are interested in and you begin tailoring a resume for those jobs. After you spend time creating and editing your resume, what happens next? You send it in, it gets placed in a pile, and then when a recruiter finds the time he or she will spend an average of 6 seconds looking it over. True story according to TheLadders, an online job-matching service, six seconds is all the time you have for your resume to stand out and make a great and lasting first impression. You probably want to make those seconds count.

What are Recruiters’ Looking for?

Will Evans, TheLadders’ head of user experience said this about recruiters, “they’re looking for job hoppers, minimum education requirements, and a candidate’s steady career progression,” And according to Forbes.com most recruiters spend those six seconds looking over these things,

  • Name
  • Current Job Title/Company
  • Previous Title/Company
  • Previous Position Start and End Dates
  • Current Position, Start and End Dates
  • Education

Recruiters are busy, they need to be able to look over your resume and find the information they need quickly, which means it is important to keep your resume clear, crisp, clean, and concise. Avoid wasting your potential employer’s time by making important information easy to find and read.

Here are 5 Tips for Writing a Readable Resume:

1. Design – Make it Work for You

You do not have to reinvent the wheel and design a resume from scratch if you do not want to. But the design can go a long way to getting you a job. So if you decide to add your resume text to a template – make sure you choose one with great design or add your own design to the template. You want your resume aesthetically pleasing and eye-catching so that the first impression of your resume is a good one. Here are some design tips you can implement into your resume:

  • Color

Most of your resume should be black and white, it is professional, aesthetically pleasing, and makes the text easier to read. For more professional resumes like legal professions, you should stick to black and white. But if you are applying for a job with some creativity you can afford to add a little pizzaz like colour to your resume. Add subtle and professional colours like navy blue, green, and dark violet in places like the text for your name, titles, bolded text, etc. Don’t overdo it, a little will go a long way.

  • Margins

So many people want to cram as much information as they can into a resume, thinking this will look better to a potential employer. The truth is recruiters need some white space on the page for their eyes to take a break, and it helps if there are margins on the resume in order to take notes about thoughts or questions they may have for you.

2. Hierarchy

A hierarchy is established when the most important information of the resume goes first, toward the top, and lesser information last, toward the bottom. Your most important information includes; your name, your current/most recent job information, your education, and your skills and expertise. What will you bring to a new company? That is what the recruiter wants to know so make sure those skills and assets are clear and visible near the top.

3. Devilish Details

‘The devil is in the details’ is a cliché for a reason, it is the small details that can make or break a resume. Good design is shattered by poor grammar, and excellent word usage is hidden by unorganized information. Here are some small details to be aware of when creating a resume:

  • Fonts

Your resume is not the place to be experimenting with a myriad of font styles. Stick to one for the best readability. Use serif fonts like Times New Roman, Georgie, Bell MT, and Garamond they have the best readability.

  • Text Size

You do not need to use different text sizes to establish important information from non-important – your name being the only exception. For the bulk of your resume use size 12 points. Your name can be bigger than the rest of the text.

4. Readability

Your resume readability does not have to be determined by you and a trusted colleague anymore, you can actually measure your resumes' readability using sites like Readable.io. This tool can help you calculate things like readability scores, keyword densities, syllable counts, and it can even spot your clichés!

For example, this blog post has

  • A readability rating of A
  • A neutral tone (between formal and conversational)
  • 2 Clichés
  • And a 6.4 Flesch-Kincaid grade level (it is encouraged to score below an eighth-grade reading level to ensure the content is readable for about 80% of Americans)

Try it out with your resume and see what your readability looks like.

Edit and Edit Some More

Using spell check is a simple but often overlooked step to finishing a resume. Remember to edit. Edit yourself multiple times, use spell check, use tools like readable.io, and use your friends and trusted advisors. Use the tools that are available to you in order to really make your resume shine.

Take some time to create a great resume and others will take the time to hire you for it. Good luck with the job hunt, and remember, you only have six seconds to impress: you only have six seconds to say “here I am, this is why you should hire me” in the cleanest, and clearest way possible. Make those six seconds count with a well-crafted resume.

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Dave Child

Dave is the founder of Readable.io, and has been building websites since the early 90s. He's one of those fortunate people who gets to do what he loves for a living.

       


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