As a professional resume writer and career coach, I am often asked what type of resume format works best. While this may seem like a simple question, the answer is anything but direct. In fact, a Google search for “best resume layout” garners well over 4 million results. While there isn’t a single layout that will suit all professionals, there are definite formatting guidelines that will increase the amount of attention that your resume receives. For example, one formatting rule that I use is the Backwards 7, which refers to the space on the page that is most likely to be seen on first glance. Including important numbers and active language on these parts of the page will help to ensure that the most impressive aspects of your career history are also the most visible to potential employers.
Here’s how it works:
Think “Above the Fold”
The term ‘above the fold’ evolved from the newspaper industry, when the most important headlines and stories where printed above the horizontal paper fold to optimize visibility. This phrase still holds true in the fields of writing, marketing and design, where similar principles are at play. The most critical information should be close to the top of the page as possible - where audiences are more likely to read it.
Steer to the Left
Several studies have been conducted that outline readers’ most common visual patterns. Results from these have shown that English-reading audiences favor the left side of the page (or screen), and visual heat maps also show that a lot of attention is given to the left side of the page. These studies also show that readers’ attention is more likely to drop off as they scan toward the right side of the page.
What does this tell us about resume formatting?
Since visual priority is given the top-left portion of the page, it’s important to insert the most eye-catching and impressive content on the part of the page that resembles the shape of a backwards seven. This means that the top third of the page and the left third of the page are your most valuable real estate. Here are a few keys ways to accomplish:
Hiring managers will spend less than three seconds deciding whether your resume warrants a more in-depth review. Without a strong format and layout, qualified candidates are at a disadvantage. Be sure to follow the above guidelines when writing your resume to ensure that you’re making a great first impression with employers!