Five Resume Formatting Pitfalls to Avoid

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Five Resume Formatting Pitfalls to Avoid

Five Resume Formatting Pitfalls to Avoid

Copy originally produced by Resume Pilots

Research shows recruiters spend just over seven seconds initially reading a resume, so you want yours to stand out – especially in today’s highly competitive job market.

As you search for templates, you may find online resume builders that create documents with multiple columns, colors and symbols. We strongly recommend avoiding these gimmicks as they’re simply too risky a move for most applicants.

Your resume is a professional document, and as such, we recommend a modern, yet conservative format. As you apply for jobs in the midst of the current economic situation, steer clear of these five resume design trends:

#1 Colors

Instead of trying to stand out with a splashy turquoise header, let your experience speak for itself.

Help recruiters quickly understand whether you are a good fit by leveraging powerful phrasing and effective design elements, such as headings and bullet points.

Land the interview first. Then, you can showcase your personality and likeability in person.

#2 Tables + Multiple Columns

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are AI tools recruiters use to narrow down large applicant pools. Many of these tools cannot accurately pull information from resumes with tables or multiple columns.

As a result, your resume may end up automatically filtered out by the system, especially if you are directly applying to roles with large companies.

By sticking to a traditional resume format, you’ll effectively leverage the minimal space you have available and help your document pass ATS scans.

#3 Skills Ratings

Many “modern” resume templates include skills sections that allow you to rate your language or technical skills on a one to five scale using symbols.

These ratings don’t tell a recruiter much about your true level of proficiency. In fact, they only serve to highlight your deficiencies.

Instead of telling a recruiter that your Excel skills are a 3 out of 5, why not provide them specific examples of how you used Excel on the job instead?

#4 Photos + Graphics

We never recommend including a photo, especially if your appearance will not have a direct impact on your ability to do the job.

#5 Unconventional Fonts

We recommend using traditional serif fonts such as Book Antiqua, Georgia or Times New Roman, which studies show are easier to read and perceived as more credible.

Final Thoughts

Your number one priority when applying for a job is to be taken seriously, and your resume is typically your first (and potentially last) impression.

When in doubt, play it safe. Keep your formatting professional, and you’ll maximize your chances of success.

About Resume Pilots

Resume Pilots is a resume writing service that works with driven, successful applicants at all stages of their careers. Previous clients include finance and pharmaceutical CEOs, senior managers in top consulting firms, and recent graduates working for the largest global companies.

For more career-related tips and to learn more about Resume Pilots, visit