Law school was a wake up call. My resume throughout high school and college was all sorts of colors, cute fonts, and fun formatting. However, when it comes to the "professional" real world, a cute & fun resume just won't cut it, especially when you're applying for law school or a job. Here's how you can take your resume from sucky to seal-the-deal in just 5 steps.
1. Why is your name in 60 point font and taking up half the page? Stop!
Your name is important. However, it's not more important than your actual experiences and academic accomplishments. Make your name slightly larger than the rest of your text, but don't let it take up most of the space on your resume. After all, you normally only have one page for room. Interviewers might think your large font name is overcompensating for your lack of experience. The example below shows how "Kevin Pire" overpowers the entire document.
2. Using multiple fonts is so early 90s.
Consistency makes your resume look clean. If you're using Georgia font for your headers but Times New Roman for your body font, your resume will be difficult to read. Stick to one font throughout the entire resume, except for maybe your name at the tope of the page (But even that is pushing it). Helvetica, Georgia, and Arial are all considered easy to read fonts at 12 point size.
3. No-one cares what you look like, get rid of the photo!
For some reason, there seems to be a trend of including a photo on your resume. Unless the job position specifically requests a photo of you, do not include it on your resume. You may be able to get away with it if you're in a creative industry, such as an advertising or marketing. This will not slide when you're applying for college or graduate school. The example below is cringeworthy. It includes a photo, the formatting is distracting, and the resume itself Is difficult to read.
4. Colors are cute but a neutral color is cuter.
It can be tempting to throw a dash of baby blue in your resume to make your resume pop. This temptation comes from wanting to stand out from the crowd and all the other resumes in the pile. However, color can make you stick out like a sore thumb which is the direct opposite of what you want. It's best to use a single, neutral color throughout your resume and let your experience speak for themselves. In the legal field specifically, you may be able to get away with your name in a different color, but any additional color will be risky. The example below utilizes a professional approach to color. But again, I want to emphasize that it's best to avoid color especially if you are applying for graduate school.
5. Choose the best type of formatting that plays to your strengths.
There are three different resume formats: chronological, functional or combination. Chronological lists your experiences in reverse order, starting with the most recent position. This is the most traditional format. Functional focuses more on relevant skills rather than your work experience. Lastly, a combination uses aspects of both. Most students use the combination formatting, focusing on experience while also highlighting important skill sets. Sections of your resume should include education, work experience, relevant skills and contact information. Additional sections you may include are awards, extracurriculars, leadership, or volunteer experiences. A great example of the combination formatting is below. Notice how there is both an experience section and a skills/interest section.