The Importance of a Visually Appealing Resume

Your resume needs to look beautiful so you can get the most use out of it. What do you need to know to improve your resume’s appearance?

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What Should a Resume Look Like

While the content of your resume and cover letter is by far the most important thing, appearance is also important. Any hiring manager who views your resume will consider how it looks. From the font choices you make to the use of bullet points in your sections, every aspect of your resume’s appearance is noticed. Balancing form and function is the best way to impress a hiring manager. In this article, we will cover:

  • The main features of a resume
  • Common resume formats and layouts
  • How to design a professional resume format that catches the attention of hiring managers 


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The Important Features of a Resume

No matter which format you choose, a good resume will have certain features. These are the main features that should be found in any professional resume:

1. Contact information

A good resume needs to include your contact information so recruiters can contact you if your job application is compelling. You should include your name, phone number and email address, but you can also include your LinkedIn and other professional social media accounts.

2. Resume summary

Every resume should have a summary statement. The goal of a resume summary is to provide a brief snapshot of your work experience, skills and expertise. Hiring managers will often scan this summary to decide whether to give the resume further consideration. When writing your summary, job descriptions and cover letter, try to use action verbs rather than passive language, as this will communicate your skills in a more engaging way.

3. Job history

Your resume should also contain a work history section that details your previous job titles and years of experience in your industry. Jobs should be presented in reverse chronological order so that your current or most recent position is at the top of your resume.

4. Skills

Every resume should have a skills section, but in certain formats, like a functional or combination resume, the skills section is featured more prominently so it takes up more space. This section should contain the soft and hard skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for. The skills section is where many of the keywords (skills that match the job’s requirements) that appeal to hiring managers and the applicant tracking systems (ATS) they use to review resumes.

5. Education

For those who have ample work experience, the education section is less important, but for recent graduates and those with a short work history, it can be crucial. This section is where your academic qualifications and official certifications are recorded. Now that you learned the features of a good resume, you will need to make sure you format those features correctly. The right resume layout or format can make all the difference when it comes to ensuring that your job search goes well.

Formatting Your Resume for Success

According to Forbes, hiring managers can look at resumes for as little as six seconds before deciding to read further or discard them. This is why proper formatting is important. The right headers and fonts, enough white space and an uncluttered layout can make it easy for recruiters to scan your resume and find exactly what they need. Here are some basic formatting guidelines to help you hit the right notes.

Set the right margins

Margins are an often neglected detail, but if you want to make an impression on the hiring manager it is these small details you should pay attention to. Your margins should be even on all four sides, and it is recommended that you set margins to one inch. If space is an issue, you can reduce margins to a half-inch in order to get a little more space.

Choose a professional font

The font you choose is also important to your resume’s overall appearance. Avoid the lure of “characterful” gimmick fonts and instead opt for a professional and legible Sans Serif font such as Arial. This will help your resume read well in the applicant tracking system.

Keep line spacing consistent

All of your resume sections should have the same line spacing to ensure consistency of appearance. You should also consider the amount of white space on the page. While your resume should not appear sparse, it is also a bad idea to cram your skills, education or experience section with too much information. This may lower readability.

Be brief

If possible, you should aim to fit all information into a single page. This will ensure accurate scanning for hiring managers, recruiters and the applicant tracking system. When it comes to the appearance of your resume, these tips cover the basics of resume writing and formatting. You should also consider less obvious details like the color scheme and the way you separate sections.


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FAQ: What a Resume Should Look Like

Q: Do I need to make sure my resume and cover letter match?

While some differences are forgivable, it is a good idea to make sure your cover letter matches your resume in presentation. Recruiters may pick up on small details like aesthetic consistency. While not exactly matching your cover letter’s look probably won’t prevent you from getting a job, giving them a complementary style could help your chances.

Q: What should a resume look like for an entry-level position?

Whatever resume format you choose for your job search, no matter the job description, it is important that you focus on the most appropriate skills and work experience that you have. Recent graduates and job seekers applying to an entry-level position may lack work experience. If this is the case, it is good advice to focus on your skills and certifications as well as any internships or volunteer work you have undertaken. A functional resume format would be best for this type of resume. Whatever resume format you choose for your job search, no matter the job description, it is important that you focus on the most appropriate skills and work experience that you have. For more guidance on the best resume format for you, visit our resume formats page.

Q: Can a resume builder help me with the appearance of my resume?

Yes, resume builders like the one offered by ResumeHelp can create an attractive and functional resume for you very quickly. Just pick a template, and our builder will guide you through the whole process, with job-specific advice for each section of your resume.

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