Dear Bev: Do you have any tips on how my resume should look?


If it's true that first impressions are formed within minutes of meeting someone, you can be sure that the first glance at your resume makes a lasting impression as well.


This isn't to suggest that content isn't important; it is. But how that content is packaged is equally critical to the discerning eye of a recruiter or hiring manager.




Does anyone really read for content?

Eventually. But that's a subject for another column. This is about first impressions.

The following breaks these areas down with some helpful tips not only on resources, but also on resume "don'ts."



There are plenty of good ones to choose from and lots of samples online. A great starting point is, which features career writers and coaches. Just start clicking on the resume writers, their pictures and links are on the far left of the opening page. You don't have to drill down very far into individual sites to find a variety of resume samples and accompanying templates offered for free. I found several that were visually appealing in less than three minutes. You can go to to find the links. Of course, if you like their free information, all will happily work with you on content, but for a price.


How long is too long?

My rule of thumb is anything over two pages tells me you're in serious need of a good editor or worse, you've taken the resume from your first job and just kept adding while neglecting to refine. However, if you're just starting your career, two is one too many. It's a good idea to stick to one page.



Short stints at multiple jobs can be a problem, but so can staying at the same place for too long, unless you reflect it properly.


Start by listing the parent company and total years there. Individual jobs at the company can be listed underneath. If your company was acquired and you're still working at the new company, make a note in parentheses, but take credit for the full time span. No one likes a job hopper. Don't make the mistake of looking like one when in fact you've moved up the ladder at the same organization.


It's safe to assume you're going to be hired based on the job(s) you've held within the last five-to-seven years. Those are the ones that should occupy the prime real estate on your resume: page one. 


Type Face, Italics and Bold, Plus Bullets

Unique can work for some things. Typeface on a resume isn't one. Pick something common and easy to read. Times New Roman, Bookman, Arial. You get the drift. It's OK to mix a few but don't go crazy.


The eye is drawn to boldface and to italics. Make sure to use them for company names and positions you've held.


Long sentences make resumes look dense. Use bullet points.



There are some template examples that use boxes and even graphs. If done properly, they can make a resume stand out. Done improperly, they have the opposite effect.


If you want to chart out your accomplishments, do it in both bullets and a chart. See which one is more direct. Are the lines in the chart distracting? Do the bullets do just as good a job at highlighting the facts? If so, keep it simple. Want to highlight something specific in a box?  A simple outlining will make a bold statement, but if it's too big, it will just detract from the rest of your accomplishments. Again, look at samples and decide what kind of graphics will work with you, not against you.









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