Formatting a Résumé

Written by on October 12, 2017 in Blog, Careers, resume tips, Resumes with 0 Comments

Formatting a Résumé

If you want to know about formatting a résumé, the best way to do it is to make it as unobtrusive as possible. Don’t use special fonts or eccentric styling and, for God’s sake, don’t use pictures. Make the résumé as plain and simple as you can. The content is what’s important in a résumé, and that’s what you want people focusing on.

What to Shoot For?

Assuming you are fortunate and capture someone’s attention for enough time to actually read the résumé, the last thing you want is them being distracted by formatting.

Right-align the Dates

I know this may sound strange, but it is important to right-align the dates on your résumé. It makes one hell of a difference in appearance. And when the dates (which are important to hiring managers and human resource personnel alike) are all in one place, it makes them easy to find. Again, you’re saving the résumé screener time, and that’ always a good thing. Not everybody knows how to properly right-align dates, so if you want to know, look at this video.

What’s Important to Know?

Regarding formatting a résumé—it’s important to know several things. Content is everything. And there’s a reason for that. The person reviewing that résumé has a job to do—hire someone for a job. And they more than likely have a hundred or more résumés to screen so they can narrow it down to the few they’ll invite for an interview.

You don’t want them focusing on your skills as a graphic designer, or how you can sparkle up your résumé with special styling or fonts; you want them focused on your content, and reading about the wonderful things you accomplished in previous jobs. (You did include a lot of accomplishments, didn’t you? If not, read this blog.

Is Formatting a Résumé That Important?

The short answer is—yes.

As any good blog site will tell you—content is king. And a résumé is no different. No matter how pretty or unique you make your résumé, if the content doesn’t fit what they’re looking for, you’re not getting the interview. And if you don’t get the interview, you’re not getting the job.

I go into a lot of detail on formatting a résumé, and what content to include and not include, in my book No Mistakes Resumes. That’s a link to buy either the e-book
or the print. You can also buy the print on this site. And remember, if you buy it here, it’s guaranteed. Below is a screenshot of a person who read the book, then redesigned their résumé. I think they did a marvelous job.

Formatting a resume


Bottom Line

The bottom line is that  formatting a résumé should not draw attention. It shouldn’t be noticeable.

How to Do It?

  • make it simple and plain
  • use black lettering only
  • use plain fonts (something like Georgia or Times New Roman)
  • use one-inch margins
  • use little, if any, styling such as italics or bold (exceptions are noted in the book)

No one should ever tell you that your résumé looks great. But you do want them to tell you that you have a great résumé.

Make It Easy to Read

A résumé with simple formatting makes it easy to read, and that’s what you want. Constant shifting from plain text to italics or bold, or changing font sizes, or even worse, changing fonts, makes it difficult to read. You don’t want that. You want it to be like reading a book.

Which brings up another point—books. There is a reason why publishers insist on consistent formatting for books, because they know it results in the books being easier to read. They might toss in a drop cap, or special formatting for chapter headings, but they almost never mess with the primary content. They do that because they want people to continue reading, not stopping to gawk at the pretty fonts or the fancy formatting.

If you follow these guidelines, you should end up with a nice-looking résumé. If you still need help, check out my book No Mistakes Resumes, and if you still need help, contact us for our résumé services, but the book should cover it. You should not need to spend money on the résumé services. If you discover you do, though, consider the following endorsement:

formatting a résumé

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Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes nonfiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series as well as books about grammar and publishing.

When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had forty animals—seven dogs, one horse, six cats, and twenty-five pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with forty-five loving “friends.”

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About the Author

About the Author: When I’m not headhunting, or writing, I help my wife take care of our animal sanctuary. At last count we had 45 animals—11 dogs, 1 horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs. Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar named Dennis who takes walks with me every day and happens to also be my best buddy. For information on my mystery/suspense books, go to .

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