Top Resume Formatting Tips for 2019

If you've been looking for a new position, it could be the perfect time to brush the cobwebs off your CV.

You’ve heard the old adage, but it’s worth repeating. You never have another chance at a first impression. When you’re looking for a new position, your resume (or possibly a cover letter) is your first and only chance to make an impression with the hiring manager. While an excellent resume may alone not be enough to land you the job of your dreams, a bad resume can slam the door shut before its ever been open. It’s a new year and the job market is hot. Give yourself a leg up with our resume tips.

1)     Keep the layout clean.

This may seem like common sense, but it’s an aspect that’s often overlooked at a large price. A well-designed resume should be devoid of clutter. Studies suggest that resumes formatted in an “e-pattern” or an “f-pattern” hold a recruiter’s attention the longest, as these formats mimic the way in which our eyes scan web pages. Check out this helpful article for examples of outstanding resumes.

At the end of the day, however, there’s no one “right” way to format your resume. As a general rule of thumb, you want to tailor the layout of your resume to the kind of job you’re seeking. Einstein’s resume would have probably looked a lot different than Rembrandt’s, so if you’re applying for a technical position, keep the visual detail to a minimum.

2)     Make it “pop”.

At first glance, tip number two seems to be contradictory in light of tip number one, but it’s important to give your resume at least a little visual flair. Keep it within reason, but make sure to give recruiters a little something to hold their attention. You can use different text colors, background colors, fonts, etc. to make your resume stand out. No one likes reading the dictionary. Why? In addition to the pedestrian nature of the content, it’s all black and white text.

If you’re looking to add some flair, but can’t find inspiration, check out this awesome article with in-depth resume design tips. Not one for graphic design, consider hiring a freelancer to design the perfect resume.

3)     Add a section to showcase your skills.

Recent research suggests that, on average, a recruiter looks at a resume for around six seconds. That’s not a lot of time, so make the most of your six seconds by adding a short section that showcases some of your core competencies in the top part of your resume.

Don’t go overboard, but if you’re good at it, lead with it. Put your most valuable skills first and work your way back. This creates a short, almost summary-esqe, section that a recruiter can breeze through and instantly get a feeling for who you are as a professional. Also, you can use a colored background in your showcase to add some visual flair. Check out this sample resume to get an idea of we’re on about.

4)     Keep it concise, but list only what’s important.

We know, we know. This tip feels vague, but it really isn’t. In an ideal world, your resume should be one page. List your last four or five positions but keep it within reason. Unless it’s your first or second job out of college, the recruiter looking at your resume probably doesn’t care where you attended high school or what your college GPA was. Listing unnecessary information adds clutter and “fluff” to your resume, which may be off-putting to many hiring managers.

5)     Show some impact.

Which of these two sentences shows more?

  • Worked in a variety of mechanical engineering capacities.
  • Worked in a variety of mechanical engineering capacities where I was responsible for decreasing the defect rate leading to a cost savings of 200 thousand dollars annually.

If you have a career, you likely have some accomplishments that go along with it. Don’t wax poetic or pump your own tires, but own your accomplishments, back them up with data, and present them in a clear, concise way.

Feeling bold? Make the data supporting your accomplishments bold or add some color to draw the recruiter’s eye.


This one might seem like a total no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many candidate’s resumes we see that are rife with spelling or grammar issues. Look, we get it. For some people, spelling and grammar just aren’t their “thing”. There’s good news however, in addition to the spell-checking functionality included in most word processors there are online services (this blog post was written using Grammarly, and it’s free.) Seriously though, it’s 2019, make sure to spell check your resume after you’re done writing. It might be another thing that isn’t enough on its own to score you the perfect job, but it could potentially be a deal-breaker to the wrong hiring manager.

Looking to make a career move?

If you’re sprucing up your resume in preparation for your next career move, give us a call at River Group. Our permeant staffing specialists will work with you to craft a perfect resume. If you’re looking to leave your current position or just want to see what’s out there, we want to hear from you.

To view our open opportunities visit us at, or give us a ring at 978.474.9920 X9790. For contract positions, please visit our partners over at Black Diamond Networks.