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:
- Include a skills and professional profile section at the top so potential readers can quickly see the value that you bring, even if they’re just skimming the document.
- Reduce your margins. Your name and contact information should be highly visible, but be sure it doesn’t take up too much valuable space at the top of the page.
- Remove any space-heavy graphics. Many people like to include design details in their resume. However, be sure these don’t interfere with your Backwards 7.
- Pack quantitative data near the left side of the page. We already know how important is it to include numbers in your resume. Make sure to include this information in your resume’s most valuable real estate – on the left of the page – to increase the attention that these details generate.
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!