July 18, 2016 | Job Guide 360

Your résumé is often the first document employers will see and if you don't impress in the first few seconds, it will also be the last piece of paper with your name on it they will read. Crafting a winning résumé is mostly an art and if mastered, its principles of effective layout combined with writing tight advertising copy will make your credentials jump off the page. Here are 7 tips that will help you send out professional résumés that leave the right impression.

1. Set It Off

Too often, the headings and even the header of a job seeker's résumé blend into the lists of qualifications and experience. Keep your contact details in a neat block in the header with your name set off in bold. Consider using a horizontal line between your header and the body of your résumé too. The trick is to strike the right balance between making the header distinctive and drawing the reader's eye away from the truly important sections.

2. Balance the Page

Just as we humans love seeing symmetrical faces, balance on a page from left to right and top to bottom feel pleasing to the eye. A résumé that is balanced is both easier to read and more likely to hold the employer's attention to through to the end. Your résumé may be naturally heavier feeling at the top due to the header and bolded sections and that's ok, but pay close attention to the often difficult left-right balance to give your page a nice blocky, full look.

3. Eliminate White Space

Based on the same principles of balance, white space should be avoided when laying out a résumé. On a subconscious level, it feels empty or careless and résumé are all about subtle first impressions. Some creative résumé writers have solved white space issues with a quotation, a graphic or a certification, but if you find an ugly stain of white you will need to find the solution that works for you.

4. Order the Elements

When listing your sections, begin with those most important and relevant for the positions you are applying for. This is often education, but not for all occupations. Within a section on experience, the convention is to move from the most recent recent to the furthest back and for degrees, to begin with the highest. 

5. Begin with Description

A common convention today is to place a short professional description near the top of the résumé. This two sentence blurb may extend across the page or be used as a block to balance another element, but the real trick is not to repeat any of the information that appears elsewhere on the page. Think of the description as the professional "how" and the rest of the résumé as the "what".

6. Active Sentences

When listing work experience and skills, experiment with using short, strong sentences that begin with active verbs. Avoid passive voice. Avoid complex syntax. Avoid repeating the same verb in more than one element. Active verbs shout competence and assertiveness, just the qualities you need to project to a prospective employer.

7. Drop Redundant Sections

Career experts advise job seekers to drop the tired old "Objective" section from the tops of their résumés and many counsel replacing this with the short description. An "Objective" adds very little to the overall effect that wasn't obvious from the fact that you applied to the job opening in the first place. It is also a good idea to drop the phrase "References available upon request" from the end of your résumé. We can assume that any job seeker will have references and you can either include these on a separate page, as a packet of letters or wait for the employer to ask for them.

A résumé that jumps off the page will increase your chances of getting your next interview. Without adding any education or experience, you can easily make yourself a more attractive prospect with these 7 formatting tips that will keep eyes on your content until the end. Now it's just up to you to fill out that résumé with top notch content. 

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