In this weekly series, our friends at MBA Career Coaches will be dispensing invaluable advice to help you actively manage your career. Topics include building your network, learning from mistakes and setbacks, perfecting your written communication, and mastering even the toughest interviews.
As we have noted in a past post that your resume is a map. So, we ask, what are the qualities of a good map? You probably have not given it much thought, because most maps are designed to be so easy to use that you do not need to give it any thought! But that is our point –just like you don’t want to fumble with the format of a map, you don’t want anyone getting tripped up by the format of your resume. Both should be easy to use and thus the first rule of map/resume creation is… consistency of format.
Indeed, a map is a kind of formula, with countless visual cues reinforcing it. For example, countries are listed in larger type and cities are listed in smaller type; scale is set and maintained; a star might denote a capital city, whereas a large dot might denote a large non-capital city and a small dot might denote a smaller non-capital city. Of course, there may be some differentiation from map to map, depending on what the map is designed to convey. However, some general rules apply to virtually all purely geographical maps, because otherwise the map itself would become useless. Imagine if the proportions shifted from country to country or different fonts and font sizes were used from city to city. Your map wouldn’t help anyone find their way or digest the desired information.
So, when you construct your resume, make sure that you develop and maintain a consistent format:
- Choose a specific font size and type for each kind of information and apply it consistently: Headings, company names, job titles, and bullets should all have their own consistent style
- Use consistent spacing from section to section
- Put similar information in the same place throughout – cities and dates, for example, might be aligned to the right margin
- Bullets are indented similarly across job entries
- Margins are maintained throughout
We could go on and on. There are lots of decisions to be made, large and small. As you make these decisions though, just ensure that you maintain the integrity of your format and you should be well on your way to creating a usable map for your employer. Your employer will read your map and quickly and easily understand the path you have taken and you will have thus fulfilled your objective.