Great Careers Groups Career,Career Transition 73 Formatting Tips to Optimize Your Resume to Get Hired

73 Formatting Tips to Optimize Your Resume to Get Hired

Formatting Tips to Optimize Your Resume

Could you use formatting tips to optimize your resume to get hired for your dream job?

Formatting tips to optimize your resume are essential to get hired. When was the last time you updated your resume?

Is your resume formatted for bots or just humans? Fonts, borders, shading, tables, lines, and more matter.

Your resume format should lead to a successful interview to land your dream job, but it could lead to the proverbial black hole when applying online. 

Showcase that your strengths and skills align with the job requirements. Your resume needs to have good readability and be error-free. 

Most importantly, customize your resume to match every job description with keywords and key phrases.

Although many people like a functional resume format, chronological or hybrid may provide better results when applying, online knowing bots will read the resume. 

You should have a pretty resume for humans and a deconstructed resume for applicant tracking systems (ATS). UPLOAD usually indicates an ATS and ATTACH is for emailing or perhaps at the end of an online application. 

Below are many considerations when writing a resume. 

  • Does your resume instantly communicate the future-forward job you are seeking?
  • Make the format easy enough to “deconstruct” the resume to an applicant tracking system-friendly resume
  • Focus on accomplishments and achievements and try to make them quantifiable – percentages, dollar amounts, amount of time, and/or other numerical quantity
  • Utilize the STAR method – situation, task, action, result
  • Read Resume Tips for LinkedIn & Google  
  • No generic statements
  • Full name at the top of the resume
  • Address on top of the first page (city and state but NOT full mailing address as you do not want someone to look you up on
  • Professional email address
  • Mobile phone number (only one number) and not a home phone
  • Include the link to your customized LinkedIn Profile
  • Researched title and keywords on LinkedIn Jobs and Google Trends (e.g., lookup project manager vs. project management in LinkedIn jobs and you will see that there will be more jobs for project management)
  • 3-5 Sentences highlighting your unique value proposition of the pain points and problems you can resolve
  • Include any stand-out awards & recognitions
  • No generic statements such as “strong communicator”
  • Use mainly hard skills, rather than soft skills
  • Limit bullets of keywords in 2-3 columns
  • Even spacing with one item per line
  • Consistent capitalization
  • Use strong industry/position related keywords
  • Alphabetize the list for easy processing by the reader
  • Can you quantify your accomplishments – $, %, etc.?
  • 5-8 bullet points of overall accomplishments over your entire career
  • List in reverse Chronological Order
  • Go back 12-15 years only, unless you worked at a company longer than that
  • Name of Companies, city, state, and dates of employment all on the same line (consider years on resume and months and years on LinkedIn)
  • Title of each position held under the company
  • Organized bullets for each statement starting with Powerful Action Verbs (past tense for anything in the past); your present job can have both past and present verbs
  • Previous contributions to each company
  • Reverse Chronological Order
  • Name of Degree (Abbreviated or full text)
  • College University Name City, State
  • Year Graduated
  • “Degree in Progress” for degrees yet to be obtained
  • Special honors received
  • Preferably no more than two total pages with a minimum of one full page
  • Arial, Calibri, or Cambria font (Times New Roman is a thing of the past)
  • Font size 11-12
  • Consistent font and size for information in each section, larger section heading, and name size
  • Remove word art, photos, and pics (For US & Canada resumes only)
  • ½ – 1” margins
  • Save as .doc, docx or .pdf file (follow instructions for online applications) – if PDF, make sure it is a readable PDF and not an image
  • Is the spacing even or at least consistent?
  • Be consistent with en dashes and replace any em dashes
  • Remove the word “I” from the summary of qualifications and professional experience and use first-person implied “I”
  • Use present tense for current job (and past tense of project is completed)
  • Use past tense for previous jobs
  • Spell out numbers 1-9
  • Remove articles “a,”  “an,” and “the”
  • Be consistent with Oxford commas
  • Include awards, licenses, certifications, and other industry-related recognitions
  • Use page numbers if two pages and include page 2 and name on the second page
  • Use a pop of color (like shaded bands) for the pretty resume for humans – see color psychology
  • Use only black and white for the “deconstructed” resume for bots
  • Name, City, ST, phone, email, LinkedIn URL
  • Headline
  • Positioning statement or value proposition is written in first person implied I
  • Core Competencies (aka skills that are keywords)
  • Career Highlights
  • Work Experience
  • Education & Certifications (or Licenses)
  • Awards & Honors
  • Professional Organizations
  • Volunteer
  • Personal Interests (are optional)
  • Objective statements (have not been used for well over a decade)
  • Remove “References available upon request” as that is a thing of the past
  • Over 12-15 years of experience unless you have been at the same company 
  • Time New Roman font may make you look dated
  • AOL email will make you look dated, so get a Gmail
  • Double spaces after a period as that will make you look dated 
  • No highly formatted Visual Resumes for online applications

And when you get that call for an interview, start preparing with these Interview Resources!

Good luck!


Lynne Williams is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, that provides career education and networking. Lynne also writes for,, and