How your resume should look so that you look good

Your resume format is the first thing a potential employer will notice. Follow these tips to make sure it’s a positive first impression.

How your resume should look so that you look good

Between optimizing keywords and jotting down your accomplishments, writing a resume is no easy task.

However, from a recruiter’s perspective, your resume’s look is just as important as its content.

Resume design matters. Think about it: When you have to evaluate hundreds of resumes each week, you’re going to spend more time on the ones that are both easy on the eyes and better for your attention span.

For example, if your resume format features wall-to-wall with text, uses several different fonts, and is peppered with dozens of bolded, italicized, and underlined words and phrases, it’s probably not going to get the attention it deserves.

So what makes a resume visually appealing? When you can quickly scan the document because it makes good use of white space, features clear and consistent section headings, and uses bullet points to make important items stand out.

As you get your resume ready for a job search, take a look at our library of resume templates, and make sure to follow our design tips below.

Use white space liberally

Create at least one-inch margins on your resume. Also, leave some blank space between various sections of the resume's text, so several distinct chunks of information can be seen.

Stick with two fonts at most

It's tempting to use all of the typefaces at your disposal, but having more than two fonts in any document only lessens its readability. One font is all you really need. If you use two, make sure they complement each other. For example, use one font for the headings and the second font for the body text.

Keep in mind, though, all fonts are not created equal. Check out our list of the best fonts for your resume.

Use bolding and italics sparingly—and avoid underlining

It's OK to use some bolding and italicizing in your resume text. Many resume writers may bold their previous job titles and italicize subheadings within each section of the document. As for underlining—just don't. Multiple studies have shown that most readers find underlined text difficult to read.

Use bullet points to emphasize skills and accomplishments

Bullets make it easier for employers to scan your resume quickly since they're intended to grab the reader's eye and lead it to the key points you want to make. Use them when you can, especially when you're highlighting skills or accomplishments. For example:

  • Increased student organization membership by 25%
  • Trained five new employees in restaurant operations and opening/closing procedures

Be consistent

If you use all caps to present the name of your most recent workplace, for example, use all caps to present the names of your previous workplaces, as well. Or, if you use bold, centered text to present the first section title of your resume, use bold, centered text to present the remaining section titles, too. If you're consistent throughout your document, you'll subtly establish a reading pattern for potential employers that will help them follow your resume easily.

In the end, you'll still need solid resume content to really sell yourself to employers. Even the most well designed resume won't pass the employer's screen if the information it presents isn't first-rate. Just make sure the content you feature is visually appealing and quickly scannable so that instead of passing it by entirely, employers will give it the attention it deserves.