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Resume Surgeon > Blog > Does Your Resume Layout Really Matter?


resume layout

When sitting down and writing a resume many candidates concentrate solely on the resume content and many spend little time on the design and layout of their resume.

Whilst resume content is obviously crucial in helping you to secure a job interview, the design and layout of your resume can be just as important.

Ex Recruitment Consultant Helen Rogers says the look of your resume can definitely improve your odds of securing a job interview: “When it comes to trying to pick a resume out of a pile, most employers will be looking for something different. I know I do. When I worked as a Recruitment Executive I would receive dozens (sometimes hundreds) of resumes for positions I was advertising and it became incredibly difficult to pick one resume apart from the rest. When job applications share similar experience and qualifications it can be quite a challenge to choose an application and invite a candidate to a job interview. So if a candidate can work on little things to help their resume stand out it can definitely be worth it. I remember on one occasion I had a pile of resumes to sift through and about half way through the pile I came across a resume that was laid out differently – it had different colour texts and boxes for different sections and it really caught my eye. I had a read through instantly and ended up inviting that candidate down for a face-to-face interview for the role. You don’t have to do anything outrageous to catch an employer’s attention but I would definitely say spending at least a bit of time on the layout of your resume is crucial if you’re looking to stand out to an employer.”

So when might your resume be the difference between securing a job interview and not?

Scenario One: The employer receives hundreds of other resumes for the job role

This scenario can actually be quite common. The job market is competitive. So competitive that employers can receive multiple resumes for every one job role they advertise. And with a large pile of resumes to read through, employers can find it difficult to decide which candidate to invite to a job interview. By concentrating on the design and layout of your resume you can make your application look different to the others in the pile. Rogers says this is crucial to improving interview chances: “If every resume in a pile looks the same and has the same design then not only can it be hard to differentiate one from the other, it can be incredibly boring for an employer. But by making yours look slightly different you’re automatically making an employer intrigued – they’ll want to read your resume and find out more and this is the biggest step when it comes to applying for a role – actually getting an employer to read your resume from cover to cover.”

Scenario Two: The employer has only allocated a short amount of time to vet and select resumes

We all know employers are busy. And many employers only allocate a certain amount of time to receive applications, read through and select some for the interview stage. Most employers will also set an expiry date for receiving job applications. Depending on the company, employers can leave very little time to review resumes – some will only leave an afternoon to read through their pile and this can lead to employers ‘speed reading’ applications. Some employers will only read through a resume thoroughly if they feel it is relevant. But if you can make your resume look different then there’s every chance the employer won’t speed past yours – they’ll be too intrigued and they’ll want to find out more about your work experience and application.

Scenario Three: You are applying for a job that lists ‘good attention to detail’ as a desired quality

Employers can tell a lot from the layout of your resume. If the layout is messy and has no real structure to it then not only does it make it difficult for an employer to pick up on your key skills and experience, but it demonstrates that you haven’t spent that much time on the resume and that you have rushed your application. This won’t give off the right impression – especially if the employer has specifically asked for a candidate that ‘pays good attention to detail’.

Layout and Design Ideas:

• Keep it simple. You don’t need to do anything fancy – a few different fonts, making headers bold and experimenting with heading colours are all ways you can make your resume stand out.

• Use boxes. Boxes can separate your information in a clear and concise way. Consider arranging the sections of your resume (i.e. work experience) into different boxes – this way an employer can navigate to the section they want to read quickly.

• Use bullet points to highlight your key skills or achievements you want the employer to know about.

• Use free resume templates to gain an idea of industry specific templates and designs and to gain some inspiration.


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