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Resume Formatting Guide for Executives

resume formatting

In an era of online job applications and internet networking, your resume is your first impression – and proper resume formatting is critical for making the first impression memorable.

No handshake, no small talk, and no personal introduction will come close to representing you in the workforce nearly as often as your resume. Which is why you need to write your resume and construct it in a clear, concise, and coherent manner. Here are a few tips to ensure the format of your resume makes reading it a breeze for employers.

6 Resume Formatting Tips for Executives

  1. How Long Should the Resume Be?

A resume should provide a busy hiring manager with your career at a glance. That means one page, single-sided in most cases. Some HR pros will be a bit more forgiving and grant the job seeker one page for every ten years of experience, particularly for executives seeking a role in the C-Suite. However, for maximum impact, no matter your level of experience, keeping your resume tight will ensure that everything you want a hiring manager to notice actually gets read.

For more senior executives, the experience beyond the last decade should be summarized in a short section including the relevant companies, titles and years. You can skip bullet points but keep things short.

Also read: Turn A Long Career Into a Short Resume

  1. Write Your Resume in Reverse Chronological Order

The most relevant information on your resume is usually the most recent if you’re an executive. As a result, work in reverse chronological order when stacking your experience. Keep your education at the bottom and grouped together (also in reverse chronological order), even if you tackled a new degree later in your career. Certifications, classes, and courses should go below your education.

  1. Use Bullets, Not Paragraphs

Long blocks of text are going to be an immediate turn off for a busy hiring manager. You can achieve maximum impact by breaking your achievements and skills into bullet points.

Start each bullet with a strong verb and you’ll make it much easier for the reader to pull the relevant information from the page.

To save on space, your most recent experiences should contain the most bullet points, and those further down the list can be limited to just the top highlights.

Also read: How to Write a Resume That Shows Your Real Value to Employers

  1. Funny Fonts are Not Your Friend

This should go without saying, however, hiring managers at even major corporations still do report receiving resumes using unusual fonts. The general rule of thumb is to stick to one font only and to go with a legible classic like Times New Roman. Also, if you’re worried about your resume being too short or too long, changing font size and shifting your margins are not the right ways to resolve the problem.

At Ivy Exec, we suggest a 14 point font for your name to keep it front and center, 12 point font to list the name of an employer, and 10 point font for writing bullet points, executive summaries, or shorter descriptions for the scope of your work at a particular company.

  1. Draw Focus

Print out a copy of your current resume. Take note of the places your eye is naturally drawn to. Better yet if you can score a fresh set of eyes from a friend or colleague. Does it feel like almost everything is in boldface? Are certain parts of the resume lost in the shuffle while others have a dozen bullet points? It’s your job to direct the eye of the hiring manager in the precious few seconds that your resume sits on her computer screen or desk. Make sure the most important sections are clearly delineated and do not overuse boldface as you will minimize its impact. When you’re done, you should be able to show the resume to a stranger, snatch it back within 30 seconds and have him be able to spout back to you a few quick, top points you want to emphasize above the rest.

  1. Create a Header

This is the easy part: at the top of the resume, make sure your name, email and phone number are all clearly displayed. Your name can be a slightly larger font size and bold for easy scanning. Use a 10 point font for email, phone number, and Link to LinkedIn profile.

Need more help? 

Visit our resume section where you can work with our top-tier team of resume experts and receive first class coaching to help you land your dream job.

About the Author

R. Kress is an Emmy Award winning journalist whose reporting and writing has appeared in national media from NBC News to the International Herald Tribune. She has covered news from cities around the world including Jerusalem, Krakow, Amman and Mumbai.