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CareerMutt® Tips for an Easy Resume Layout

There are many ways to lay out a resume. Here is an easy, professional layout.

Length: 1-2 pages depending on your experience. The guideline is two pages after ten years of experience, but that is not a hard-and-fast rule.

Font size: 10-12. You may want to make your name larger if you use a 10 font for your text. Headings can be centered or on the left.

Reverse chronological order: As a general rule, list recent items first within a heading that uses dates (for example, jobs and colleges attended).


Align text (not including your name or headings) on the left side ("left justify"): This will make your life easier than if you use indents. Other exceptions: You can center items in a Summary or Profile section if you have one.

Your name: Usually centered and in bold (it can be in all capital letters or upper and lower case).

Your contact information: At least include an email address and phone number. A snail mail address is no longer required especially when sending an electronic version. However, you may want to include your snail mail address if applying for a competitive job located in your area.

Use bullet points when describing jobs. Bullets are more effective than paragraphs, but paragraphs are acceptable. You do not need bullets in headings including Summary or Skills (if you use those optional headings) or in Education.

  • List bullets in the order of their relevance for the job to which you are applying. Put the least relevant bullets in the middle (so you start and end strong).

Use action verbs: Action verbs connote strength, accomplishment and, well, action. The verb is often the first word in a bulleted phrase, but that is not essential. "Supervised 5 people" (action verb) is stronger than "Was the supervisor of 5 people."

The Ohio State University wrote my favorite list of action verbs, but there are many available online . Refer to action verb lists especially if you are stuck as to how to write about the work you did.

  • Avoid the phrase, “Responsibilities included…": A resume sounds stronger without it. For example, Responsibilities including writing and editing…” sounds weaker than “Write and edit…

Objective: Rarely used for professional jobs; considered outdated. However, you won’t be penalized for using one.

Heading titles: Use headings to your advantage. For example, it is common to list jobs in an Employment section. Dividing your positions into Relevant Employment and Additional Employment can be particularly useful for career changers. Instead of Employment, you can also combine volunteer and paid positions in an Experience section (which can further be divided into Additional and Relevant). Other possible headings include, but are not limited to, Skills, Profile, Publications, Computer, Key Words, and that catch-all, Additional. Here is Indeed’s list of headings

Education: If you are a student or recent graduate, Education is usually the first section (after a Summary, Profile or Qualifications section, if you use one). After two years of work experience, Education goes at or near the end.

These are general guidelines. Everyone's circumstances and preferences are different.

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