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What’s the difference between a good resume and a great resume?
A good resume may land you interviews. But a GREAT resume can land you THE JOB.
But what’s the real difference?
Is it just the content? More skills and achievements? Better experience?
A great resume goes beyond great content - it has a great resume layout.
A great resume has all the right things in all the right places and is easy for hiring managers to read.
A great resume layout anticipates what hiring managers want, gives it to them, and impresses them.
Plus, professional resume templates can make you seem organized and detail-oriented.
Just take a look at the example below. Both have the same content, but which will attract more attention?
So, that’s why this simple resume layout guide will tell you:
Some experts will tell you one page, and some will tell you two. So, which do you choose for a perfect resume layout?
Here’s a rule of thumb - use a one-page resume layout if you’re inexperienced or writing a student resume.
You can get away with two pages if you’re a seasoned professional with lots of experience.
The key is gauging your audience. Will the hiring manager want to read a two-page resume?
Nine times out of ten she won’t.
Pro Tip: Don’t force the second page if you can only fill up half of it. Try to cut your resume to one page by deleting additional sections.
Want more advice on how to make a resume layout sample for one page? Unsure about what to cut? Read our guide: “How Long Should a Resume Be? Everything You Need to Know”
The reverse-chronological resume format is the most common. It’s the best for creating a professional resume layout that’s easy for hiring managers to scan.
The two main sections in a reverse-chronological resume layout are education and experience. Either can come first. You will list both your jobs and degrees in reverse-chronological order - with your most recent first.
The functional resume format is best left alone. You can use this basic resume format to list skills and achievements in a random fashion.
And you can do that without listing dates of employment or jobs you held.
In the end, there’s no social proof that you can use your skills in a workplace.
The combination format allows you to list work history in reverse-chronological order.But you also get to place emphasis on your skills.
You use your best skills that are relevant to the job as subheadings.
Marketing Manager 2015 - Present
Good Times Company, Happyville, NY
Pro Tip: Most hiring managers will spend only a few seconds scanning your resume. That’s why the best resume formats put your most important information first.
Unsure which formats will support creative resume layout ideas? Want to know the advantages of each format? Read our guide: “3 Resume Formats: How to Choose the Best One [Examples]”
Contact information comes first. Don’t forget to add pertinent information such as degrees, titles, or license numbers. Make it prominent and easy to find by placing it at the top of the resume.
Next, place your most relevant skills and achievements in the top third of your resume. The top third is where the hiring manager will focus. So, perfect resume layouts make the most of that prime real estate.
You can achieve this by:
Adding a resume summary or resume objective. Each is a brief 2-3 line introduction to yourself as a professional. Take a look at how adding an introduction attracts attention:
Next, comes either your education or experience section. Which you choose will depend on which is the most relevant and impressive. You should list the content under both sections in reverse-chronological order.
Let’s say you have years of experience. Your work history should come first. Start with your most recent job. List your title, the name of the company, the location, and the dates of your employment.
Taxidermist 2010 - Present
Stuffed Animals, Pelican, Louisiana
Stuffed Animals Inc.
Use around six bullet points under each job to list responsibilities. Even better, list some quantifiable achievements as well. Did you decrease costs or increase revenue? Add that!
Numbers draw the eye of the recruiter.
As for your day-to-day responsibilities, pick those most relevant to the job.
Let’s say you’re a fresh graduate with a student resume. Best to put your education first and your part-time summer jobs second.
Finally, you’ll want to add a skills section.
You won’t always find a section for skills on modern resume templates online. But grouping your skills in a separate section is important.
A skills section helps the hiring manager see right now that you’re qualified to do the job. All you have to do is list the skills you have that also show up in the job offer.
It’s best to put your skills section in a prominent place in a modern resume layout. Here are some suggestions:
Here’s an example from our resume builder showing a creative resume template PDF that uses a side column:
Also, consider adding other sections. Depending on your profession, additional sections will vary. You may not need to add any at all.
Here are some examples of additional sections to add to an interesting resume layout template:
Pro Tip: To add extra sections, make sure you have more than one item to list. Otherwise, try to fit those items into other places on your resume so as not to waste space.
Still not sure what to put on your resume? Not sure which sections will benefit a simple resume layout? Read our guide: “What to Put on a Resume to Make It Perfect [Tips & Examples]”
Let’s say you’re creating a Microsoft Word resume layout from scratch. Your margins should be one inch.
Let’s say you’re using a resume builder or you downloaded a resume template online, a sample resume layout is often in place. Just add your information.
The effect you want to achieve is a balance between white space and text. Use bullet points to break up blocks of text and add more white space to your new resume layout.
Single line spacing is best. Add double line spacing after subheadings.
Your font should be clean and easy to read - no Comic Sans. The best choice for an easy resume layout is to use a 10-12 point Sans Serif or Serif font.
For ideal readability, keep the font size consistent throughout your resume. The exception is increasing the font size for your name.
If you want to emphasize certain elements of your cool resume layout do so by using bold, caps, or italics. That includes such information as your name or subheadings.
Write your contact information on a single line instead of giving each bit of information its line.
Decrease the font size to pack information into your free resume layout like sardines in a can.
Remember it’s about quality, not quantity.
Pro Tip: Times New Roman is the most common resume font. And that’s the reason why you should avoid it. You don’t want your resume to look like a simple resume template download, do you?
Want more information about which fonts work best for resumes? It’s not as silly as you may think. Read our guide: “What is the Best Font for a Resume? (+10 Examples & Tips)”
Let's say you're the best candidate and have all the right skills. It doesn't matter. You won’t get far without spending some time on a professional resume layout design.
Some of you may find it easier to use an online resume template or a resume builder. But for the rest of you, all you have to do is spend a few extra minutes considering how to lay out a resume.
That’s the difference between a good resume and a great one. And that difference is what will land you your dream job.