A colorful, printed resume placed on a purple background.

Why formatting is the key to an eye-catching resume

november 15, 2023

Your resume is often the first thing hiring managers see. First impressions are important, and a poorly formatted resume can be the reason you don’t get an interview, even if you have the right job qualifications. Whether you are actively seeking a new role or are happy in your current position, it’s never too late to create a clean, eye-catching resume that reflects your professional history and accomplishments. Keep reading to learn more about why resume formatting is important and how you can polish your resume.

A unique resume stands out

Most job seekers use bland, black-and-white resumes. While simple resumes may feel like a safe choice, they can penalize you—if your resume looks like everyone else’s, it’s easier for a hiring manager to breeze through it or skip it entirely. Using a unique resume template or Word template to reformat your resume can help you get noticed and keep a hiring manager’s attention for longer.

Don’t be afraid to incorporate some color into your resume. A pop of color can add more personality to your resume, and employers are beginning to prioritize prospective hires’ personality traits. Recruiters are constantly seeking new hires that will complement their company’s corporate culture.

You don’t have to use the same resume style for every job application. It’s wise to cater your overall resume style to suit the company you are applying to. For example, if you are applying for a job at a pharmaceutical company, you may want to choose a sleek and clean resume design, whereas if you are applying for a job at an advertising agency, consider using a bold, vibrant resume design. If you’re not sure which resume design to use, look at the company’s website to guide you. A company’s website will often reveal a lot about its company culture.

Simple, readable fonts are key

While you may feel compelled to use an eccentric font to make your resume stand out, it can be harmful to your candidacy. Hiring managers won’t be drawn to a resume they can’t read, or they may not read the entire thing. Stick to readable fonts when formatting your resume, like Arial, Georgia, Helvetica, Times New Roman, and Tahoma.

It’s also important to use a legible font size for your resume. Some are compelled to make the body font of their resume massive to get it noticed, but using a larger font means that your resume will likely be longer than one page. Keep the body text of your resume around 10 to 12 points so that it’s legible, but still fits on a single page.

A descriptive yet concise resume helps hiring managers

When you only have one page to share your professional history, you’ve got to make it count. That’s why it’s important to keep your work history concise yet detailed. Hiring managers want to make sure they are hiring the right candidate, just like you want to make sure you are finding a role that is the right fit for you. A resume that isn’t clear and to the point may confuse employers or cause them to lose interest. On the other hand, if you aren’t appropriately conveying your prior job experiences, you may be wasting your own time and find yourself in an hour-long interview or role that wasn’t quite the one you were looking for.

Make sure you are using the right keywords on your resume—browse through the job description for the specific job you are applying to so that you can determine which keywords and skills the employer is seeking in a new hire.

The right white space declutters your resume

No one wants to read a messy-looking document. Companies want organized employees, and if your resume is chaotic, you may unintentionally send the message that you are unorganized.

Using resume styling with the right amount of white space or margin size is crucial to having a clean and uncluttered resume. Resume margins should ideally be one inch on the top, bottom, and sides. If you need more space, half-inch margins are acceptable but aim for one-inch margins for an aesthetically pleasing resume that a recruiter will want to read.

Get a second set of eyes on your resume

If you created your resume, it can be hard to see the flaws in it that are holding you back from getting an interview. It’s wise to have a friend, mentor, or resume writer review your resume for a second opinion. A fresh set of eyes can provide advice on how you can improve your resume to make it clearer and more eye-catching.

Using the right resume formatting will help your job applications get noticed. Microsoft Create offers free resume templates in a variety of styles and designs to get started on revamping your resume today.

Further reading

Interested in other ways to stay organized and radiate professionalism? Check out the following articles from our other creative pros:

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