5 Tips to Improve Your Resume’s Readability

Cropped image of businessman analyzing resume at desk in officeIn a digital world, having a well-written, readable resume is more important than ever. Many companies use applicant tracking systems, which filter out resumes before they even get to human hands. But even if a human looks it over, depending on that person’s computer, the formatting of the document can get ruined. Here are some tips to make sure you avoid running into these roadblocks.


Tip #1: Use minimal graphics and embellishments

Many resume templates you find online have fancy graphics or complex formatting, but these can hurt your resume more than help it. That is not to say you can’t have any embellishments. Depending on the program you create your resume in or the font you use for your text, you can add minimal lines or boxes to your resume without affecting the text. Avoid large blocks, lines, or filled text boxes that could obfuscate your information.


Tip #2: Make Sure Your Text Is Text

Some jobs may call for a more creative resume. If you are applying for something artistic, like a graphic design or illustration position, you may be tempted to go ham on your resume and showcase all your artistic abilities. However, in addition to everything already discussed, it is important to make your resume in a program that allows you to export your text correctly. This means that the computer needs to read the words on the image as separate from the background. An effective way to check if you have readable text is to drag your curser over the words and highlight them. If you can highlight everything, then your text is readable. Programs like Microsoft Word or Adobe InDesign are good programs to use, as well as .word, .txt, and .pdf file formats. Don’t use image editing programs like Photoshop or export as a .jpeg, .png, or any other image file format.


Tip #3: Choose a Readable Font

Believe it or not, your font choice matters. Having a good, standard font will allow machines to pick up the contents of your resume better. Basic sans serif fonts like Arial or Calibri work well with applicant systems since they are common in word processing software and are, in general, clean and professional fonts to use. Times New Roman is a good serif font to use, especially if applying to a more traditional business. However, some industries might find it too traditional. If you do start to get creative with your fonts, make sure they’re still professional, legible, and either serif or sans serif. If you use Curlz MT on your resume don’t expect to get an interview.


Tip #4: Attach Other Important Documents

Depending on the job (and the website you’re applying on), the employer might request you to attach other documents like a cover letter or work samples. Some job boards don’t have a dedicated upload area for these other documents. But if the job calls for them and they need to be submitted, you can submit them in the same document as your resume. Depending on the job you’re applying for, it may make sense to put the resume before the cover letter and vice versa. And, if you need to include work samples on the same document as your resume, they should go last so they don’t distract from your qualifications. Make sure your cover letter and written work samples have readable text and a good font and try to use the same fonts throughout your resume and cover letter.


Tip#5: Pay Attention to What File Format You’re Using

Once you have all your documents together, you might be tempted to just turn in the file of what you have to the employer or the job site and wait for a response. But sometimes employers might request a specific format for application materials. Different word processing software has different file formats, and not all computers can read all formats. For example, Windows computers can’t read documents made on Macs using Pages, and computers without Microsoft Word on them can’t open Word documents (although this is a less common issue in the business world). Pay attention to the directions on the application form and make sure your resume, cover letter, and any other documentation is in an acceptable file format. If in doubt, export everything to a PDF. PDFs maintain their formatting across operating systems and most computers have a way of opening PDFs without any specific software.


Having a well-written resume is always important. If a resume is difficult or confusing to read, it’ll be hard to land an interview. Readability and quality go hand in hand, so if one is lacking the other suffers with it. Once you have both factors working in synergy, let Area Temps help you land your next position. With 7 offices across Northeast Ohio, we can find a job in your field that’s close to you. Check out our available openings here.

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