Ultimate Guide to Resume Writing [Part 2]: How to Format Your Resume in 2020

Updated: Jul 2

Little things make a big difference when you’re putting a resume together. Choices about font, spacing, margins and alignment affect the overall impression your application makes on employers.

This might be controversial, but in our opinion, the layout of a resume is equally important as the content. They are two sides of the same coin.

Think about it this way:

  • If you don’t have the proper layout, will employers give you a chance if they cannot find their way through the content?

  • If you don’t have well-thought and relevant content, will employers give you a chance based solely on a nice-looking document?

You see – one doesn't work without the other.

When it comes to layout, there are a few key things you need to take into consideration to make a resume that is easy on the eye:

  • font

  • headings = structure

  • colors

  • graphic elements

  • white space

  • length

In the next 8 minutes, you’ll find actionable tips coming from recruiters that will help you make the right formatting decisions, even if graphic design isn't your strong suit.

In case you need help with writing a resume, check out the first part of our Ultimate Resume Writing Guide.

>> You can do it on your own. Or jump-start your job search with one of our ready-made resume templates! <<

A. Font style and size

When it comes to fonts, keep it simple and play it safe.

Professional, clean and easy-to-read fonts will never go out of style.

So, in 2020, choose a Sans Serif font. It’s a clean and sleek group of letter-forms that don’t have extending features called "serifs" at the end of strokes. They are used to convey simplicity, modernity and minimalism – exactly what you need to put your content in the spotlight.

Some of the best Sans Serif fonts are Arial, Calibri, Corbel, Helvetica, Avenir, Source Sans Pro/Light or Tahoma. We are attached to Calibri Light and use it for almost all our templates as it embodies minimalist and professional style all employers want to see when they open a resume.

Note: Comic Sans is also in Sans Serif group but should never be used for a resume. Or any other business document, whatsoever. Livescience even has an article explaining why people hate Comic Sans. DesignForHackers openly dislike it.

True, choosing a different, unique font makes you stand out, but not in the way you’d like. Anything with a handwritten, cartoonish or too complex font is distracting and guarantees your application won’t be taken seriously.

Another factor in making your words highly readable is setting an appropriate font size. Generally, you should stay between 10 and 12 points.

B. Headings

Employers should be able to navigate through your resume with ease.

You know that hiring managers usually don’t have time (nor patience) to read every single word in a resume in order to find the information they are interested in. Therefore, they need to know where to look for specific information at first glance.

Differentiating the headings of each section in a professional way can help here.

You can stylize your headers in a few different ways:

● Write section letters in capital letters

● Use a “bold” font on your section headers

● Increase the size of your section header fonts to 12, 14 or 16 points

Underlining headers is also an option. However, an underlined text tends to be hard to read, so we don't recommend it.

>> Download a resume template and apply for your next job in 15 minutes! <<

C. Color

It’s 2020. Resumes are no longer boring black-and-white documents. Colors have become a valuable tool for formatting an eye-catching CV. They help you express your personality, emphasize the structure and create an outstanding layout.

However, they still need to be used wisely and sparingly. Otherwise, they can have an opposite effect and hurt your job application.