How to Fix Funky Resume Formatting

Poor formatting on a resume can make the document difficult to read. Since most hiring authorities only spend about 15-30 seconds reviewing a resume, it is important to make the document as "user friendly" as possible to improve the chances of piquing the hiring manager's interest. Below are three common formatting mistakes I see on resumes and recommendations for improvement.

Wasted space.The category headings for experience, education, etc. are at the far left. That means there is a lot of wasted space in the document that could have been filled with quality information about your candidacy. Place category headings at the far left or centered and write information about your job responsibilities and accomplishments directly below. Place employment dates to the far right rather than the far left to optimize space on the resume.

Work experience
XYZ Distribution Center
Knoxville, TN
  • Unloaded lay-down and non lay-down tractor trailers
  • Scanned incoming merchandise
  • Performed quality assurance on incoming merchandise

ABC Manufacturers
Knoxville, TN
  • Sheared metal plates up to 20 feet long and 5/8 inches thick
  • Utilized press brakes with 200 tons of braking capacity on metal up to 24 feet long
  • Rolled metal plates up to 10 feet in length and 5/8 inch thick
  • Finished metal using a steel shot blaster
  • Proficiently used overhead cranes
  • XYZ High School
  • Available upon request

1. Too many bullets.

When you list more than five or six bullets in a row on a resume, the content begins to look like one big paragraph with polka dots rather than defined accomplishments. Break up the text by grouping long lists into themes based on competency. Competency headings could be things like office administration skills, sales, operations experience, financial management, etc.

XYZ Phone Company
Operational Technical Support Manager 2003 – Present

  • Manage technical team of 18 wireless industry IT professionals and oversee 120 floor personnel in call center environment providing second level wireless support solutions and technical training for business.
  • Responsible for the interviewing and hiring Technical Support and Customer Service Representatives.
  • Maintain and prepare financial documents, employees payroll, time sheets, and attendance.
  • Conduct audits to assure compliance with rules and regulations to determine liability and accuracy of data reported by employees.
  • Counsel employees on work-related problems; provide oral and written reprimands and recommends disciplinary actions consistent with departmental policies and procedures.
  • Monitor and evaluate employee's inbound/outbound calls for quality assurance purposes and provide feedback to ensure our clients are provided superior customer service.
  • Diagnose and solve customers wireless data issues related to installation and configuration of hand held and personal digital assistants utilizing Palm and Pocket PC operating systems, email, web browsing, digital voice and data networks, and track wireless data issues for research and resolution.
  • Provide product support for XYZ cell phone equipment, standard hardware operating systems, XYZ provided applications, data network, and application gateways.
  • Lead cross-functional business and IT strategy teams to redesign IT processes to better meet customer goals, resulting in improved productivity, response time and reduced expenses.

2. Big blocks of text.

Using a paragraph format makes it difficult for anything to stand out. Hiring managers' eyes glaze over when they see big blocks of text. They are pressed for time and need the facts quickly. Turn your paragraph into a concise bulleted list of achievements for better results.

Regional Driver, XYZ Company

Drive semi tractor-trailer combinations within the 11 western states and western region. Hauling freight of all types and kind to various customers in a timely and safe fashion. Work with customers to ensure their 100% satisfaction. Operate semi tractor-trailer along a dedicated lane on the contract for the XYZ company in a timely and safe manor. Work with shipping clerk with shipping and receiving of freight in a timely and safe fashion. Maintain complete and accurate paper logs as to comply with the rules and regulations of the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and XYZ Company Express. Use the onboard "Quall Comm" system to maintain contact with fleet managers at terminal locations.

Driver, ABC Company

Drive tractor/trailer combinations and straight trucks on designated routes delivering and rotating customer product including pastry and dairy products to Coffee House Restaurants throughout Northern and parts of Central California and Northern Nevada on designated routes. All deliveries are made on a timed basis, with service guaranteed to the customer on an attended as well as unattended/keyed basis, where I am charged with unlocking door, turning off store alarm, making the delivery, resetting the alarm, and locking the door on my way out.

Pick up and deliver truckload shipments between Northern Nevada, Northern, Central, and Southern California to include Downtown Los Angeles, and San Diego. Responsible for the proper loading and unloading of freight, to include, but not limited to, insuring that all shipments arrive on time, while maintaining proper temperature of frozen product. Maintain proper control of all documents and paper work attached with all shipments. Maintain a daily log of all activities as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Department of Transportation and ABC Company.

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