How to Organize Your Resume with Resume Layout Examples in 2021

How to Organize Your Resume with Resume Layout Examples in 2021

How you organize your resume matters. The layout and formatting of a resume can have a huge impact on a hiring manager’s first impression. Plus, the layout helps to guide the employer’s eye around the resume to the most important information! In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about resume organization and layouts.

Written by Ed Moss • Last updated on May 27, 2021

The way you layout and organize your resume depends on the purpose it is being used for.

For instance, a resume used to apply for an entry-level job will look different than one used for a senior-level job.

The key to determining how to layout your resume is to think about what the hiring manager is looking for.

Ask yourself these 3 questions about your potential employer:

  1. Will they read the resume thoroughly or just skim the most important information?
  2. Are they expecting a specific resume format?
  3. Have they listed any keywords or requirements for the resume within the job description?

In general, you will always want to keep your resume as concise as possible.

This means you must optimize the sections and headers to be easy to read and follow.

What are the Main Sections of Your Resume Layout?

Though resumes can differ in purpose and content, all resumes should contain the same basic information.

Here is a break down of the main sections you should include on your resume every time:

  • Personal Header: A personal header should contain your name and contact information. It should be the very first information to appear on your resume.
  • Professional Statement: This can come in the form of a job title, professional objective, or professional summary.  It should always include a  brief explanation of your professional title or goals.
  • Work Experience: Your work experience section is where you detail your previous jobs. This is where you will list your responsibilities in previous roles. Typically, this will be the largest section of your resume.
  • Education: Your education section is where you will list what level of education you have received and degrees earned. Some employers may ask you to include GPA information, so pay careful attention to the requirements listed in the job description.

When an employer first looks at your resume, these are the sections they will be searching for.

This makes them the most important sections on the resume.

However, other sections can be useful additions to your resume as well.

Adding extra sections will depend on how much extra space you have.

It will also depend on how relevant the extra information is.

Additional sections to consider adding include:

  • Skills and Proficiencies: Skills and proficiencies can be important to include in a smaller section. These can demonstrate to employers your different talents and capabilities. When listing your skills, you should include both hard and soft skills.
  • Certifications: Certain jobs require you to have specific certifications. Other times, you may have gone out of your way to earn certifications to give you an edge on the competition. Always make sure the certifications you include are relevant to the job.
  • Awards and Achievements: Some applicants may have earned awards at previous jobs for their work.  In other cases, an applicant may have had significant achievements within a previous role. Including these helps to show future employers your professional prowess and work ethic.

What Goes Where on a Resume?

Here is a rundown of the basic order for sections on a resume:

  1. Personal Information: Your name and contact information should always come first. Follow this with your professional statement.
  2. Work Experience: The next section should typically be your work experience section. This section is what most hiring managers will be looking for and provides the most relevant information.
  3. Education: Place your education section after your work experience. This can be below the work experience section or placed in a sidebar.
  4. Additional Information: Place extra info within the sidebar of your resume.

There are a few cases in which you will not want to make your work experience the most prominent section.

The following are examples of such circumstances:

  • New Graduates: Applicants who have recently graduated may not have an abundance of work experience.
  • Employment Gaps: Some applicants may be returning to the workforce after some time away. This can result in having an employment gap that makes creating a prominent work experience section difficult.
  • Curriculum Vitae: The CV is a long-form resume intended for use by people applying to jobs within the fields of science and academia. This type of resume puts greater emphasis on the education section.

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What are the Different Types of Resume Formats?

When deciding on a way to lay out your resume, it is important to consider the different resume formats.

The format you choose can change the focus of your resume to suit your needs better.

This is especially important if you are lacking in certain areas, such as work experience or education.

The 3 main types of resume formats are as follows:

  • Reverse-Chronological: This format focuses on your work experience. In this layout, your most recent and relevant job will appear first.
  • Functional: Functional resumes are good for applicants who lack work experience. This type of layout will place greater emphasis on education, skills, etc.
  • Hybrid/Combination: A hybrid format is good for applicants who may have some work experience. This combines elements of both the reverse-chronological and functional formats.

For more information on choosing the best format for your needs, check out our guide on How to Choose the Correct Resume Format in 2021.

What are the Basic Resume Layout Design Rules?

Many elements make up a strong resume.

These elements should help to move the reader’s eye around the document to the most important information.

In this section, we will cover design rules for the following 5 elements of a resume:

  • Headers
  • Margins
  • Line Spacing
  • Fonts
  • Bullet Points

Plus, we have included examples to help you gain a greater understanding of layout design!

Human Resources

Headers

Your headers are the titles found at the top of each section. They are the primary element that helps to direct the employer’s eye around your resume.

Headers should always be in a larger, bolded font. This helps them to stand out from the rest of the text. Underlining can also help with this.

Additionally, headers should be as short and concise as possible. Think of them as points of navigation for the reader!

Example: You are creating your work experience header and want it to stand out.

Incorrect:

Work Experience
Job Title 1,
Company Name
Date – Date
Description
Job Title 2,
Company Name
Date – Date
Description

Why It’s Wrong: In this example, the applicant has made the work experience title the same size as the rest of the text. This makes it harder to find on the resume. It also lacks bolding to help it stand out.

Correct:

Work Experience

Job Title 1,
Company Name
Date – Date
Description

Job Title 2,
Company Name
Date – Date
Description

By bolding, enlarging, and underlining the title, the title stands out much better.

Margins

Margins refer to the space on all sides of a resume that separates the text from the edge of the page.

The recommended margin size for a resume is one inch.

This should be the same on all sides.

By using one-inch margins, you create a border of white space that is visually pleasing.

However, since the margins are only one inch you also avoid losing precious space needed for text.

One page is not a whole lot of room, so be sure your margins are set correctly for optimal space! 

Example: You have run out of space on your resume but still have more information to include.

Incorrect: You choose to decrease the margin size to .5 inches on all sides.

Why It’s Wrong: When you go below an inch in size for margins, your resume can begin to look cluttered and jumbled.

Correct: Rather than change the margins, go back through and edit down your existing information. Make sure each of your sections is concise and simply worded!

Line Spacing

Line spacing is the vertical distance between each line of text.

Choosing the right spacing will help your resume to be more readable!

The general rule of thumb is to stick to line spacing between 1.15 to 1.5.

This amount of spacing helps to keep the lines from being too close together by adding extra white space.

For headers and titles, you may want to use 1.5 – 2.0 spacing to help them stand out from the rest of the text.

Example: You are formatting your work experience section

Incorrect:

Job Title, Company
Date – Date
Descriptive sentence
Descriptive sentence
Descriptive sentence

Why It’s Wrong: In this example, the applicant has used 1.0 line spacing. This causes the descriptive sentences to be very close together, making them difficult to read.

Correct

Job Title, Company
Date – Date

Descriptive sentence

Descriptive sentence

Descriptive sentence

In this corrected example, the job description has a line spacing of 1.5. This provides more white space between each line that makes the text much more legible. 

Human Resources

Fonts

When choosing fonts for your resume, it is crucial to keep consistency in mind.

Using too many different fonts can become visually distracting.

It also affects the legibility of your resume.

Additionally, certain fonts may look more visually interesting but are actually quite hard to read.

This is especially true with fonts that mimic handwriting and cursive.

Generally, we recommend sticking to one font. If you choose to mix up your fonts, we recommend using no more than two fonts on a resume.

Fonts to consider using include Helvetica, Times New Roman, Garamond, or Calibri.

However, any simply designed font should do the trick.

Example: You are selecting a font to use for your name.

Incorrect:

Jane Doe
janedoe@email.com
(123) 456-7890

Why It’s Wrong: In this example, the applicant has selected a cursive font to make their name more interesting. As a result, however, the name has become hard to read. This is not ideal, as hard-to-read names are even harder to remember for employers.

Correct:

Jane Doe
janedoe@email.com
(123) 456-7890

Rather than using a fancy font, this corrected example makes use of bolding and a larger size to help the name stand out.

Bullet Points

Bullet points are extremely useful on a resume.

They help you to organize your information into bite-size lines that are clearly defined.

Using bullet points also helps hiring managers to read through your job descriptions quickly.

They aid in creating a visual map for the reader to follow!

Without bullet points, a resume can quickly become over-crowded with too much information.

Example: You are creating a skills section and are writing descriptions of your proficiencies.

Incorrect:

Skills
I am highly proficient in using Adobe In-Design, Photoshop, and Illustrator. I am also very good with Microsoft Office programs, such as Word and Excel. Additionally, I have strong people skills and work well in a team.

Why It’s Wrong: Hiring managers are not likely to read wordy paragraphs. By separating these points into separate bullet points, this section could be much more effective.

Correct:

Skills
· Proficient in the Adobe Suite and Microsoft Office Suite
· Strong communicator
· Leadership in team settings
Human Resources

How Long Should the Resume Be?

Generally speaking, most hiring managers will expect to see a one-page resume.

However, there are times when a multi-page resume may be preferable.

Here are some examples of when to use a multi-page resume:

  • You have over 10 years of experience in a field or industry
  • You are creating a CV
    You have many certifications or awards

The key to using more than one page is to always double-check that the extra information is relevant and necessary.

Still not sure what length to make your resume? Check out our guide on How Long Should a Resume be in 2021? (With Tips to Fit on One Page).

Should the Layout be Different Depending on the Position I’m Applying For?

Anytime you submit a new job application, you should take the time to adjust your resume for that specific job.

This allows you to include keywords found in the job description.

It also shows the employer you have a keen skill for observation and attention to detail!

Optimizing your resume for specific jobs is important.

Read our guide on how to Tailor Your Resume to Any Job in 4 Easy Steps to learn how to better optimize your resume!

Final Takeaways

Your resume’s layout has a major impact on a hiring manager’s first impression.

It also affects the ease and speed with which a hiring manager can skim your resume!

Here are five key takeaways to remember about your resume layout:

  • Always make your headers stand out from the rest of the text using different font size and bolding
  • Make sure your name and contact information come first
  • Use bullet points to make your sections easier to skim
  • Try to fit your resume onto one page when possible
  • Use fonts that are easy to read and consistent across the board

If you need extra help perfecting your resume, check out our free guides and resume examples today!

Ed Moss is an author for Easy Resume

Ed is a co-founder of Easy Resume. His background in scaling teams at tech startups over the last decade has given him extensive experience and knowledge around how to hire top talent and build successful teams. He enjoys mentoring, coaching, and helping others reach their career goals. When he's not writing about career-related advice, he's playing with his dog, Lilo, or going on long hikes in upstate New York.

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