Resume Formatting Do’s & Don’ts

DO: Try to keep it to one page

A resume for an undergraduate student should be able to fit on one page. Your resume isn’t a list of everything you’ve ever done; you should prioritize the most relevant experiences and skills and make use of the space on the page to write about your accomplishments.

There are a few occasions that justify having a resume that’s longer than one page:

  • You have 10+ years of experience to show and that experience is relevant to the opportunities you’re applying for
  • You are writing a Federal Resume (required for positions in government)
  • You are creating a CV

Read moreThe Difference Between a Resume and a Curriculum Vitae

DON’T: Use a template without customizing it to your experience

Templates can be really helpful, especially if you’re writing your first resume, but you should always take time to customize the template to your experience! If you’re using a template, ask yourself…

Ask yourself…

Ask yourself...

  • Does this template highlight my most relevant experience?
  • Do these section headings make sense with my experience? Are there any that should be edited or removed?
  • Do I have enough room to write my bullet points?
  • Am I sacrificing my content for aesthetics?
  • How could this template be tailored to highlight my most relevant skills or experience?

DO: Use bold, italics, underlining, and color strategically

Remember the purpose of these styling tools: to draw the readers attention to something or make it easier to identify similar elements in a document. Review your document to make sure your use of bold, italics, underlining, or color is for a purpose.

DON’T: Confuse expectations for skills

Things like being “hard-working” or “punctual” are expectations of any candidate or employee; they’re not skills. Even some phrases like being a “team player” are so overused that they’ve lost their impact when included in a resume.

When you’re coming up with your skills or writing about your experience, dive deeper into what makes you hard working or what makes you a team player. Yes, you’re punctual, but maybe that means you have strong time management skills! See the difference? That small change in language elevates an expectation to an in-demand skill.

How to Get Feedback on Your Resume