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How to Write Strong Resume

November 16, 2009

10 Tips For a Reader-Friendly Resume

Your resume must capture the reader’s attention within the first 15 seconds or risk being lost in the reject pile. One key success factor for your resume is its readability, that is, how easily and quickly the reader can absorb your information without loosing interest. To help you gain maximum attention, here are ten tips to keep eyes focused on your resume.


  1. Avoid small font. Nothing in your resume should be smaller than 11 point. If your reader has to squint, he’ll end up skimming over the important parts of your resume.
  2. Keep your font simple. They may not be the snazziest, but the two easiest-to-read fonts are Arial and Times New Roman. Anything in your resume that causes eye strain de-motivates the reader to keep reading.
  3. Don’t write large blocks of text. A resume reader’s attention span just isn’t up to more than three consecutive lines of text. Beyond four lines and your block of text gets ignored completely.
  4. Use white space to separate bullet points. The purpose of bullet points is to visually separate text so that your information stands out in easy-to-digest bits. Without white space your list of bullet points takes on the look of an extended block of text.
  5. Don’t try to squeeze too much onto the page. A densely packed resume carries a 0% motivating factor—nobody wants to read it! Never sacrifice readability in order to keep your resume to a certain page length.
  6. Write concisely. The best way to insure your resume isn’t too dense is to keep your words to a minimum. Keep the fluff out so that your important key words stand out loud and clear.
  7. Keep your bullet points to two lines each. Bullet points are a shortcut method of giving your reader a lot of information quickly. If your bullets are longer than two lines you’re probably trying to give more information than necessary.
  8. Use bolding to visually direct the reader’s eye. Not only does bolding break up the gray space, it helps draw attention to specific critical skills and quantified information. It also helps slow the speed of reading to avoid fast skimming of your information.
  9. Use lines to separate resume sections. Simple lines work as a visual break between the different types of information within your resume. They help the reader make the transition between sections without taking up too much valuable white space.
  10. Don’t get fancy with design elements. Multiple styles of bullet points, line thicknesses and font styles can detract the reader’s attention away from what you want to say. Additionally, with electronic document transmission, you can never tell if your design elements will be read correctly or if they translate into non-readable coding.

Once you’ve implemented these ten strategies your resume will gain stronger interest from potential employers and recruiters as they actually spend more time reading your resume. The result is more interview requests. Improve your resume’s readability and improve your odds of getting hired quicker.

About the Author: Deborah Walker, CCMC is a Career Coach helping job seekers compete in the toughest job markets. Her clients gain top performing skills in resume writing, interview preparation and salary negotiation. Learn more about Deborah Walker, career coach at: http://www.AlphaAdvantage.com

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