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Why you won’t get hired if you write an unreadable resume

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I couldn’t help think resumes when I recently had to get new prescriptions. The antibiotics came with pages of information from the pharmacy but I could not find the information I wanted.

Messed up formatting

The format was a glob of text with periodic caps, no bullets, no section headings, and no white space. Not only couldn’t I read it easily the first time, when I went back to search through the information, I couldn’t quickly find the key words I remembered reading.

There were all kinds of don’t in the directions but I didn’t know which ones were future warnings and which ones were the intake instructions right now like take with food because everything was scrambled into a muddy mess of text.

What mistakes create an unreadable resume?

As with the prescription instructions, when you write a resume you need it to be easily read. This includes formatting with enough white space so the reader can easily find your way through the document. The resume sections have to be defined so the reader understands the options.

When you skip defining elements like bullets, section headers, text enhancements like bold and different font sizes, you confuse the reader.

I was so baffled by the instructions in the prescription that I delayed taking the first dose and asked my son to help me wade through the instructions. I can tell you we gave it a lot more time than your resume will get if you make these mistakes.

You also need to explain any acronyms that the reader may not understand. Even if it is clear in your field, if the human resources specialist is clueless to what your resume means, your resume may be tossed before the person who would actually be your supervisor even sees it.

What makes a resume readable?

  • Clear language and write clearly. Explain Acronyms. Well known ones like IBM you can get away with, everything else probably needs an explanation.
  • Add section headers to differentiate the sections and even add lines or other enhancements to make it clear to the reader.
  • Make sure there is plenty of white space. Globs of text are impossible to read.
  • Break your resume into a mix of bullets and paragraphs. Look at this post for an example. If something is all bullets or all paragraphs, the human eye blurs and you will find your reader’s attention is lost.
  • Use clear fonts, nothing wild and crazy for the body of the resume.
  • Make sure the font is large enough for the hiring manager with bifocals. If they have to enlarge the print to read it, they won’t!

This is the tip of the iceberg but following these tips will help your resume get read. Please review my resume samples for more ideas.

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