There’s one thing that all good resumes have in common: They are easy to read. Readability is something of a courtesy that you extend to recruiters and hiring managers—but it’s more than just good manners. Consider this: A recruiter may get 100 resumes for a single position. If the other 99 resumes are all clear and concise, but yours is extremely difficult to read, it’s very likely that it’ll simply get tossed. In other words, poor readability compromises your prospects.
But what do we mean when we talk about readability? Well, for one thing, we mean a resume that’s laid out in a way that’s easy to navigate—section headings, bulleted lists, plenty of white space, a legible font choice, etc. We also mean a resume that’s written in clear, plain language.
There are many things you can do to enhance your resume’s readability—and today, we’ll summarize three of the big ones.
First, Review Your Style and Formatting
Before you look at the words themselves, just take in the big picture. Does your resume flow naturally? Is it easy on the eye? Here are some specific points to consider:
- You’ll want to have a professional-looking font—we recommend Calibri or Helvetica—and a font size of 10, 11, or 12.
- Also ensure that the different sections of your resume are clearly defined.
- Use bullet points whenever you can—in particular in the Core Competencies and Professional History sections.
- Ensure default settings for the margins, and plenty of white space throughout.
- Eliminate any images or distracting design elements.
Second, Remove Needless Jargon
The next step we recommend is cleaning up your language, and ensuring your resume is free and clear or needless technical jargon. Some specific pointers:
- Upon the first use of an acronym, make sure you spell it out. Remember, some acronyms can mean different things in different fields.
- Don’t assume that recruiters understand all the technical aspects of your industry; provide context and clarity for your technical terminology.
- If you can think of a less technical way of saying something, that’s usually the best approach. Avoid jargon for jargon’s sake.
Finally, Seek an Extra Pair of Eyes
One more thing we’d recommend: Share your resume with a friend or family member. Ideally, share it with several friends and family members. Get lots of opinions about your resume’s clarity and readability—and make any necessary changes based on the feedback you receive.