Many people overlook the format and layout of their resume, assuming that the content is the most important part when presenting themselves to potential employers.  Though content is crucial, it is important to remember that your resume is often the first thing that a potential employer will receive from you, so it must be as flawless as possible.

A cleanly-designed, professional resume is comparable to a business professional outfit.  Presentation is an extremely important aspect to any first impression, and can be perfected by following the guidelines detailed below.

General Layout

A resume should not be longer than one page, single-sided.  Your entire resume will likely be read in under 2 minutes, and should convey the most important points in 20 seconds.  Maintain balance between white space and text by keeping margins between 0.75 and 1 inch.  Look at your completed resume from a distance to determine if the density of the text is appropriate.


Your full name must be largely displayed at the top of the page, possibly in a bold or capital-lettered font.  When deciding on a font or [subtle] color, strive for an interesting aesthetic, but keep your presentation simple and clear.  Your contact information should be presented under your name in a considerably smaller font, preferably in one or two lines.  If putting multiple pieces of information in one line, separate each point with either bullets or small vertical lines.


Though each individual’s resume will vary, the essential rule when organizing sections is consistency.  Each section of your resume should have a one- or two-word heading that details the experiences under it.  Use horizontal lines to clearly divide sections.

For each section heading and subsequent subheadings, have a consistent order and stylization of information. For example: “Company, Position, date” is common. Differentiate subheadings by bolding, changing the font size, italicizing, or a combination. Avoid underlines unless you have a lot of space – they can appear cluttering.


Each activity and section of your resume will have descriptive points that we recommend individually marking with bullets for clarity.  Be intentional with character choice; simple characters are traditional, but creative symbols are also functional as long as they maintain clarity.  Font choice should be clear and simple, using either a traditional font such as Times New Roman, or a sans-serif font like Helvetica.


We advise a clear balance between left and right alignment throughout your resume.  A common style is to have sections and activities left-aligned, while dates and places are right-aligned to avoid having them lost in section text.

It is important to remember that a successful resume can follow different a different layout.  Just be sure to keep your page clear, balanced, and easily-read.  Creativity can come at a cost, so be sure that any creative aspects of your resume are done with intention and take your field/potential employer into consideration.

Feel free to send us questions about your resume at Resumes for the RCSA resume book are due by February 1 – please to send us drafts before then for review.

Resume Checklist:

We will not accept resumes that do not meet these criteria

  • One page
  • Margins no smaller than 0.5 in, no larger than 1 in
  • Consistent punctuation
  • Correct spelling and grammar
  • Graduation date