Resume 3 mins read

Resume Design Matters: Formatting Tips for Readability and Impact

Your qualifications might be top-notch, but if your resume design is a mess, you risk making a poor first impression before anyone even reads your achievements. Fact: Hiring managers spend mere seconds initially scanning resumes. A well-formatted resume instantly projects professionalism and makes it easy for recruiters to find the information they need.

Let's break down how to create a visually appealing resume that both humans and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) will love.

Key Formatting Tips

  1. Choose a Clear, Professional Font

Stick to tried-and-true fonts like Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, or Times New Roman. These are easy to read and won't distract from your content. Aim for 10-12pt font for your main text, with headers slightly larger for distinction. Avoid overly stylized fonts or anything too tiny, as it strains the reader's eye.

  1. Embrace White Space

White space is your friend! Think of it as the breathing room for your resume. Adequate margins (0.7 to 1 inch on all sides) and proper spacing between sections and lines of text prevent your resume from looking cramped. Use bullet points strategically to break up paragraphs and highlight your key accomplishments.

2. Strategic Headings & Bolding

Clear section headers guide the reader through your resume. Use labels like "Work Experience," "Education," Skills," etc. Bolding can be used sparingly to emphasize company names, job titles, or particularly relevant skills. However, don't overdo it, or you'll create visual clutter.

3. Modern Templates (With Caution)

Many websites offer visually appealing resume templates. These can add a touch of modern design to your resume. Proceed cautiously! Overly complex templates can confuse ATS software or make your content less scannable. If you opt for a template, always double-check that it translates well into a PDF format.

4. File Type Matters

PDF is the standard resume format. It ensures that your design and formatting remain intact across different devices and operating systems. Occasionally, a company may request a Word Doc version, so be sure to check if your layout looks equally good in that format.

Additional Considerations

  • Colors & Graphics: A subtle pop of color or a simple graphic element can be effective for creative fields. However, most resumes should stick to a simple black and white design for maximum professionalism and readability.

  • Overall Length: The traditional one-page resume is still the norm. However, if you have extensive, highly relevant experience, a two-page resume is acceptable. Just make sure every word counts!

  • Customization: It's wise to subtly tailor the formatting of your resume for different job applications. For example, if applying for a tech role, slightly rearrange your sections to lead with your "Technical Skills."

The AI Advantage

AI-powered resume builders often incorporate design analysis. Tools like AcePrep can help optimize the look of your resume, ensuring it passes ATS checks and makes a strong visual impression on human recruiters.

Ready for a Resume Makeover?

Want to jumpstart your resume makeover? Try our free AI resume builder tool today!

Stay tuned for the next part of this series, where we'll dive into the power of resume keywords!

Other blogs in this series


  1. The Essential Resume Sections: What to Include and Why

  2. Resume Design Matters: Formatting Tips for Readability and Impact

  3. The Power of Keywords: Optimizing Your Resume for Success

  4. Action Verbs vs. Buzzwords: Crafting a Compelling Resume

  5. Tailoring Your Resume: The Key to Landing Your Dream Job

    Experience-Based Guides

  6. Crafting a Winning Entry-Level Resume: Highlight Your Potential

  7. Resume Transformation for Career Changers: Sell Your Transferable Skills

  8. The Mid-Career Resume: Showcasing Growth and Achievements

  9. Senior Executive Resume: Highlighting Leadership and Impact

  10. Freelancer & Consultant Resumes: Project-Based Success Stories