Nine Things That Clutter Up a Resume

Visual presentation is a very important part of any resume. This does not mean that you have to use bold borders or graphics. What you need is balance. The following ten things tend to clutter up a resume and make it look messy.

1) Lack of White Space

Some resumes are so crammed with information that the reader has a difficult time separating one section from another. The information about the employer, job titles and dates worked, and job highlights are so crammed together it is hard to tell where one begins and the other ends.

White space is very important. It gives the eye a clear direction in which to travel. It helps define when a change of information has occurred. It says you are neat and organized.

2) Unusual Fonts

Even if you are an artist, it is important that you use a standard type font. There are two reasons for this. First, your resume may be scanned by a computer before it reaches a person. Most computers only recognize a few basic fonts. Your safest choices are Times New Roman, Georgia, Courier, Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, Trebuchet, Calibri and Verdana.

Some people swear that serif typefaces, such as Times New Roman, Georgia and Courier are easier to read. Almost anyone who spends time on the computer is just as comfortable reading the sans serif typefaces (Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, Trebuchet, Calibri and Verdana). Unless you know that the person looking at your resume has a preference for one type face over another, go with the look you personally prefer.

3) Too Many Different Fonts

Using more than two fonts in a resume makes you look indecisive. It also looks cluttered. At the most, use two font types. You can achieve stunning results by using one typeface for all the headings and another typeface for the remaining content.

In general, large blocks of italic fonts are difficult to read, so save the use of italic fonts to short headings, such as job titles or dates worked.

4) Too much bold print

You may have a vivacious, outgoing personality and making a bold statement may be very tempting, but don't overwhelm your resume with too much bold print. It makes a resume hard to read. Save the bold typeface for headings and subheadings.

5) Too Small a Type Size

Never prepare a resume that uses a type size smaller than 10 points. It is better to have a two-page resume in 12 point type, than a single page in 8 point. When the type size gets too small, it makes it difficult to read your resume. When you are competing against 100 or more resumes, you don't want to have your resume ignored because it broke the 10 to 12 point rule.

6) Inconsistent Formatting

You don't want inconsistent formatting to suggest that you are disorganized. If you choose to italicize your job title, every job title in the resume should be italicized. Every heading should be the same typeface and size. If you use bold formatting, use it consistently. If you use bullets to set off the highlights of your work experience, use them consistently under each job and ensure that your bullets are aligned throughout the document. Consistency will contribute to an easy to read resume far more than most people realize.

Establish a logical order for the essential information. Your resume will look disorganized if you don't. Most resumes will list the name of the business, the city and state in which it resides first. After that there are some minor variations. Some resumes place the dates worked on the same line. Others will put the job title and dates worked on the next line. Both are acceptable, but once you choose your format, stick with it.

The key is to establish a consistent order. If you choose to put the dates you worked first, then the position you held, followed by the employer information, do it consistently. Make it easy for the person screening the resumes to understand the information you are providing.

7) Too many short job listings

If you've gone through a time when you worked for very short periods of time for a number of different employers, it can look bad for you on a resume. Not only does it make your resume look cluttered, it emphasizes something you don't want to draw attention to. Simplify your resume by finding a common job title that fits all the positions you worked in.

This is one of those times when choosing to put the dates in which you gained your work experience before the title of the position can be useful. You can then follow this information by the list of employers. The person screening the resume has no way of knowing whether you worked several jobs at once or went from job to job.

8) Justified Margins

While some people are able to pull this off, using margins that are justified on the right rarely works. It tends to create distracting spaces between words and a general ragged look. Allowing the text to be ragged on the right side is much more attractive.

9) Too much information

You can keep your resume from looking cluttered by limiting the amount of information you include. Put yourself in the employer's position. What has the job posting said that employer is looking for? Those are the things you want to emphasize as you share highlights of your experience. Include the high points. If you are fortunate enough to have many accomplishments, chose the best ones.