IT Resume Dos and Don'ts: Formatting for Readability


IT Resume Dos and Don’ts: Formatting for Readability

In my profession as an IT resume author, I’ve seen plenty of IT resumes cross my desk, and I’d wish to share some frequent of the commonest formatting issues that I see frequently. Of course, an IT resume requires greater than nice formatting. It requires well-written, focused content material, and a transparent story of profession development. It wants to speak your distinctive model and worth proposition.

Still, if the formatting is off, that may derail the remainder of the doc and forestall your story being learn by the hiring authority.

I’ll begin with a number of IT resume formatting “don’ts.”

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1. Don’t Use Headers

This is a straightforward repair. Headers and footers made plenty of sense when an IT resume was more likely to be learn as a printed sheet of paper.

In 2018, how seemingly is it {that a} busy hiring authority goes to take the time or the hassle to print out the tons of of resumes which might be submitted for each place?

Not terribly.

Your IT resume goes to be learn on-line.

That’s why utilizing a header for your contact info is a nasty concept.

It takes a number of seconds to click on on the header, copy and paste your electronic mail and telephone quantity, and then click on once more within the physique of the resume to learn the textual content.

Just a few seconds would not look like a lot, however for somebody who’s trying by way of plenty of resumes, each second actually does depend. A hiring authority who’s REALLY busy may determine it is an excessive amount of bother to get your contact info from the header.

That means your resume might effectively find yourself within the “read later” folder.

That’s not a very good end result.

There’s one other downside with utilizing the header, associated to the one I simply mentioned.

Headers simply look quaint. Out of date.

Old long-established will not be the model you need to current in case you’re trying for a job in expertise — whether or not you are a CIO, an IT director, or a senior developer.

Again, that is a straightforward repair. Just put your identify and contact info within the physique of the resume. I counsel utilizing a bigger font in daring caps for your identify. You need to make certain that your identify will stick within the reminiscence of the reader.

2. Don’t Over-Bullet

This might be the commonest mistake I see within the IT resumes that cross my desk.

In my commerce, we name it “death by bullets.” The job seeker has bulleted every part.


That’s actually laborious to learn. Beyond the truth that it is simply not clear, there’s one other large downside with over-bulleting.

To paraphrase The Incredibles, if every part is bulleted, nothing is.

The purpose of utilizing bullets — sparingly — is to attract the reader’s eye and consideration to your main accomplishments.

If you have bulleted every part, the reader would not know what’s crucial and what’s not, which defeats the aim of utilizing bullets in your resume.

In my very own work as an IT resume author, I make a transparent distinction between duties and duties and laborious, quantifiable accomplishments. I write the duties in paragraph format, and bullet solely the accomplishments that display what my IT resume shoppers actually have delivered.

It’s a transparent, simple strategy that I like to recommend.

3. Don’t Get Colorful

Happily, this explicit downside would not appear as frequent because it was a number of years in the past, however each occasionally, I’ll nonetheless see a resume with numerous shade.

The concept behind that, in fact, is to make the resume “eye-catching.”

Rather than catching the reader’s eye, nonetheless, plenty of shade is simply complicated.

“Why is this section blue? Is blue telling me it’s really important? And yellow? Why is this person using yellow? Because it’s mighty hard to read…”

I’m certain you see my level. The colours, reasonably than giving the reader a map of what to take a look at first — what to prioritize — simply find yourself trying, effectively, busy.

That makes your resume tougher to learn. And if it is tougher to learn?

Yeah. As I discussed above: It’s seemingly to enter the “read later” folder.

You actually don’t desire that to occur.

4. Don’t Lead With Education

This is one other straightforward repair, but it surely’s vital.

The solely time you need to lead with schooling is once you’re a brand new grad. If you are an expert — whether or not senior, mid-career or junior — you need to spotlight your expertise on web page one, and not take up that useful house together with your levels or certifications.

Of course, levels, coaching and certifications are vital, however they belong on the finish of the resume, on the backside of web page two or three.

5. Don’t Use Arial or Times New Roman

I’ll finish the “don’ts” with one other easy one.

Arial and Times New Roman are, effectively, so 1990s. Yes, they’re good, clear, readable fonts, which is why they’ve turn into so common.

Probably 90 p.c of all IT resumes are written in these two fonts. There’s nothing adverse in that, but it surely’s a bit of boring.

Now, I’m not suggesting you utilize Comic Sans or Magneto, however there are some nice, clear fonts that are not as frequent within the IT resume world.

Personally? I like Calibri for physique and Cambria for headings.

So, that provides you quite a few issues to keep away from in formatting your IT resume. I’ll now counsel a number of “dos” to focus on to make sure that your doc is as readable as doable.

1. Keep Things Simple

I’m a powerful believer that an IT resume wants to inform a narrative. The formatting of the doc ought to serve solely to make clear that story, and not get in the best way.

When the doc is completed, have a look. Does the formatting lead your eye to a very powerful factors? Is the formatting clear and clear? Or does it distract from the story you are attempting to inform?

2. Think Mobile

This level will get extra vital with every passing 12 months. These days, the percentages are that the hiring authority might be studying your story on a telephone, pill, or different cell system.

That’s modified the best way I’ve formatted the IT resumes I write for my shoppers.

I’ve by no means gone past minimal design, however I’ve scaled issues again. For instance, I used to make use of shading to attract consideration to crucial sections of the doc.

But now? I feel that may be laborious to learn on a cell — and readability, to repeat a theme, is the one purpose of resume formatting.

3. Use Bold and Italics Sparingly

This level follows straight from the earlier one. We do not need to daring or italicize every part. Bold and italics, used persistently and sparingly, may help sign to the reader what’s most vital in your IT resume, and present a framework for a fast read-through.

That allows the hiring authority to get the gist of your profession quick, with out distracting from a deeper second learn.

4. Use Hard Page Breaks

This is fairly easy, however it will be important. I all the time insert laborious web page breaks in each completed IT resume I write. That helps make sure that the doc goes to look constant throughout gadgets and throughout platforms.

It’s not 100 p.c foolproof — Word is a less-than-perfect software. With laborious web page breaks, although, the percentages are superb that your resume will look the identical to every reader — and to the identical reader when reviewing the doc on totally different gadgets. That consistency reinforces the sense of professionalism you are striving to convey.

5. Write First, Format Later

Professional IT resume writers disagree on this, however I’m going to counsel what I’ve discovered efficient in my observe.

I all the time write the resume first. I personally use a plain textual content editor, to make sure that Microsoft Word would not add something that I’ll need to struggle to take away later.

It’s solely when I’ve received the textual content utterly completed that I copy and paste into Word, and then add the formatting that I feel finest helps the consumer story I’m attempting to inform.

If I attempt to format as I’m writing, the formatting might take over. It’s tempting to insist on retaining the formatting constant, even when it isn’t finest supporting the story.

So give it some thought. I’d strongly advocate writing first, and formatting later, once you’re utterly clear on the story you are attempting to inform.

I do know that many individuals battle with formatting their IT resume, so I hope that these easy concepts will assist make the method a bit of simpler and much less painful.

Stay tuned for future articles that can dig a bit deeper into the IT resume course of, protecting content material construction, writing model, and branding.

J.M. Auron is an expert resume author who focuses completely on crafting the best possible IT resume for shoppers from C-level leaders to hands-on IT professionals. When he isn’t working, he practices Fujian Shaolin Kung Fu and Sun Style Tai Chi. He additionally writes detective fiction and the occasional metrical poem.

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