Formatting Tips for Creating the Optimal Resume

How do you create the optimal resume that gets into the hands of the hiring manager or Human Resources contact? Here’s some must do (and do not) strategies!

A resume is key to getting the right job.  However, if your resume never reaches the hands of a hiring manager or Human Resources contact, your resume essentially goes in the garbage.  How does this happen?  Quick answer:  It gets caught up in the employer’s automated resume filtering system.

So, how do you avoid getting caught up in that system? How do you get your resume before human eyes?   Here’s a few tips to get you started!


Avoid adding hyperlinks to your resume.   The coding behind the hyperlink can often prevent it from making it through the employer’s filtering system.  The two most common areas that this comes into play is when email address and LinkedIn profile addresses are added to a resume.  Make sure to deactivate these links!

Sometimes it will also come into play if you have published works and want to hyperlink out to them.  While creating ease for the employer if they want to view them, a quick google search will do the trick for them if they have the right information.  And, again, by deactivating the links you aren’t getting caught up in their filtering system.


Don’t be tempted to use the Word templates to format your resume.  While it may help line things up a bit easier for you, these too can cause your resume details to fail to carry over into the potential employer’s system.   Less data in, less chances for you at the job.   Stick to working from scratch to avoid this!


Graphics, such as personal pictures, can really personalize a resume, but… they are one more thing that can cause a resume to fail to pass through the filtering system.  Most tools aren’t designed to read or ignore them.

As an alternate, utilize LinkedIn to post a professional picture.  Typically, the best pictures are the ones without any distractions behind you and with a white or very light background.  That way you “pop” in the picture.


Above all, be consistent within your resume.  When you use dates, display them the same way (October vs. Oct.).   Also, be consistent in your formatting.  If you use bullet points for one job (which I highly recommend), use them for all jobs.

Maintain consistent margins, bolding, italicizing, and to some degree fonts.   Make sure the same type of information (i.e. employer name) is in the same font and font size throughout.  Same with bolding and italicizing.

Visually Appeal

Once you have completed an initial draft of your resume, stand back.  Does your resume look visually appealing?  Does it make you want to read it?  Is there enough white space that what you do have on there “pops?”

What are your resume tips?

I would love to hear your resume tips or strategies for formatting.  Also, if you have any questions on the above, please don’t hesitate to share them.

Don’t forget to check out Creating a Strong Resume:  The Basics and Your Resume: The Introductory Portion for more tips!



28 thoughts on “Formatting Tips for Creating the Optimal Resume

  1. These are great tips! I always found it hard to find balance between making it look visually appealing/fit my personality vs making it professionally acceptable.

    1. It is a careful balance, isn’t it Jen? You do always want your resume to sound like you, even if you have a professional resume writer write it for you.

  2. Great tips! I have a few different ones with different layouts and levels of formality depending on the kind of role that it’s for. Consistency is so important! x


  3. Its take a while to get it right but these are fab tips. Thank you for sharing and we are pleased that we are doing them…though I may need to get rid of a hyperlink or two! ????

  4. These are great ideas! I’ve always struggled with writing mine and have never been happy with it, but I will definitely try these tips! Thanks for sharing ☺️

      1. I’d never even considered that there would be some sort of filtering system for CVs. I also would never add a photo of myself as racism is still a huge problem, and I want to be judged on my ability, not on the colour of my skin

  5. You’re right about the templates – so tempting, but on our system at work they sometimes don’t come through correctly, which means the employer has to do more work and has to really want to put you on the system!

  6. I’m definitely going to bookmark this post for a later date. I really needed this before my new job! Thank you for the tips!

    1. Glad you like the tips Shannon! Visual appeal is so important – it can make what you have written “pop” or blend!

  7. I actually use a free online CV builder, which really helped me to craft my resume. At my interview for my placement my CV was actually brought up by the interviewers as they really liked how it was done. I also got the position, but the coronavirus happened and my placement had to be put on hold, sigh.

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