I was invited to a dinner party with some old friends this weekend. After sweating through a meal outdoors in the East Coast heat and humidity, we decided it was time to head into the air-conditioned living room for coffee and dessert. That was when I noticed a phenomenon I had seen many times before—an entire cake left untouched. (Shocking, I know.)
Our hosts had laid out two tempting dessert options: a tray of individual pastries and a gorgeous, gooey, delicious-looking chocolate cake. Fifteen minutes later, the pastry tray was decimated, while the cake remained intact. It wasn’t that the pastries looked tastier than the cake (that cake looked like heaven), but the pastries were bite-size and easy to just pick up and pop in your mouth. (You could even say the pastries were a piece of cake to eat!)
Enjoying a (literal) piece of cake, on the other hand, would have required you to set down your drink, pick up the cake knife, cut yourself a slice, put it on a plate, grab a fork and a napkin, and focus for a minute or two on eating it.
Even though it would almost certainly have been worth the effort, no one bothered.
OK, here's the tie-in: Your resume should also be served in bite-size pieces. No one wants to cut through a big slab of text that takes time and effort to consume.
Not convinced? Consider these two (purposely blurry) resume examples:
"Ugh, too much text." "Mmm, bite-size pieces!"
The resume on the left looks like a lot of work. Any one of those solid paragraphs of text would be enough to discourage the reader.
The one on the right is much easier to digest. Your eyes can scan around the page, taking a bite here and a bite there. Specifically, it has:
- Wider margins
- More white space
- Horizontal lines to show the eye where to go next
- Bold type, centering, and capitalization to call attention to key information
- Less detail
- Bullet lists instead of full sentences
- Varying line lengths
Want to check your own resume’s visual appeal? Zoom out to view the page at about 30% of its actual size. Check that each section is clearly defined, the layout is evenly balanced, and you can pick out the key components. Pongo Members: The zoom tool appears in the upper right menu bar when you click Print Preview.
Don't let your resume be the cake that remains untouched. Make it visually appetizing and easy to read.
Any questions or comments about resume presentation? Post your thoughts below and we’ll be glad to address them!
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Plain Text Resumes: How to Make Them a Little Less Ugly
Check Your Resume Before You Send It (Checklist)