Jane gets a call from a recruiter with a dream job. Her skills are a perfect match. The sector is a perfect match. The position’s perks are amazing.

Jane trembles with excitement until the recruiter asks for an up-to-date resume urgently, wanting to put her name forward by close of business.

Jane hasn’t kept her resume up-to-date and has back-to-back meetings all day. There’s no way she can devote time to her resume.

Jane would have been wise to keep her resume up-to-date so she could respond quickly. Instead she lost out on the chance to apply for that dream job. Jane wasn’t resume ready.

Keep your resume up-to-date

Your resume is your most important job-hunting tool. It’s best to keep it up-to-date, even if you’re not actively looking for work. You never know when an opportunity may pop up.

Every time you land a new position, finish a great project with real results, act in a higher position, or complete a special assignment, update your resume. It doesn’t take that long when everything’s fresh in your mind.

Besides meaningful content in your resume, it’s great to make your resume look neat, clean and modern. The combination of these two elements will make your resume stand out from the crowd.

Visual tips for getting resume ready

If well done, the visual appearance of your resume will create a positive first impression. It says a lot about your level of professionalism and attention to detail. Remember that recruiters and employers could be looking at hundreds of resumes for one position. Grab their attention with quality presentation that is easy on the eye.

face2face has free resume templates on this website, designed around quality presentation. We’ve tested these designs and know they work. Simply download and use.

If designing your own resume, remember that the reader (employer and/or recruiter) will scan content initially. They won’t read every word. This scan determines if your resume goes into the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ pile.

Follow these tips to make your resume scannable.

  • White space. Let your resume breathe by using white space liberally. This includes creating decent margins and leaving blank space around headings and sections. White space enables chunks of information to be more easily absorbed.
  • Structure. Apply a sensible structure. Aim for: name and contact details at the top; a 10 to 12 bullet point summary of skills relating to the position; education and qualifications; professional profile; referees.
  • Fonts. Don’t litter your resume with half-a-dozen fonts. This reduces readability. Simple is better so use one font with a slightly larger point size and/or bold for headings. Choose fonts that are highly legible like Arial, Verdana, Calibri or Segoe.
  • Point size. Choose a point size that is easy-to-read. Generally, a font between 10 and 12 is good. Arial, however, is a larger font so use 10 or 11-point size with it. Remember that your headings can be slightly larger and bold.
  • Underlining. Studies have shown that underlined main body text is more difficult to read. It also adds visual clutter. Avoid underlining altogether.
  • Headings and sub-headings. Headings and sub-headings are useful in helping readers navigate content. Too many layers of headings can be confusing, however.
  • Bullet points. Use short, sharp bullet points to enhance readability (no more than one and a half lines each). Use these to emphasise skills and accomplishments in a succinct, neat and orderly way. Bullet points are highly effective in helping recruiters and employers quickly scan your resume.
  • Being fancy. Avoid being fancy. Wall-to-wall text, columns, small fonts that are hard to read and overuse of borders and distracting design elements (like bold, italics, underlining) turn recruiters and employers off.
  • Be consistent. If you choose to write a cover letter, make sure it’s laid out in a consistent way to your resume.

Final tip

Even if your resume looks stunning, that’s not enough to land you a dream job. Content is key.

Your resume is your opportunity to really sell yourself. Strengthen your position by checking out these articles on winning resumes.

Your resume: Photo or no photo?

Career objective statement: Yes or no?

References: Do’s and don’ts from the pros

Words to use and don’t use in your resume