Resumes: Use Lot’s of White Space

By:  John Holmgren

You are applying for a position that is perfect for your career and your dreams.

You want to tell the company (HR) resume reader everything you’ve ever done!


Back to basics:  The purpose of your resume is to get an interview (not the job).

Your first objective is to get your resume read at all!  You have to make me (the reader) want to take the time to read it.

If you put too much ink on the page, you make my job too hard.  I’ll throw it out!  You are making me work to understand what you do.  I don’t have time for that!  GONE!

The resume is a tease.  The response you want is, “Here’s someone who can help.  Let’s learn more”.  Make that briefly but abundantly clear.

Especially now, hiring organizations will receive many resumes for any desirable job.

Don’t do yourself in by providing too much detail.  This is especially true of people who have technical backgrounds.  Focus on accomplishment.  Leave detail for the interview.

In his 2000 book, “Don’t Make Me Think”, Steve Krug makes several very useful points on page 31.  Among them, “Create a clear visual hierarchy on each page”, “Break pages up into clearly defined areas”, “Minimize noise”.

My view is that his last point, “Minimize noise” is critical.  Tell the story of your capabilities briefly.  If it is readable, brief and to the point, you give yourself the best chance for further consideration.

An analogy is that of driving on a highway at 70 miles per hour and seeing a billboard at the side of the road.  That is the amount of time you have to create an impression before your resume is discarded.  Remember the acronym KISS?  Keep It Simple Stupid.

Too much ink (detail) will do you in!

BTW, I recommend Krug’s book highly.  Its focus is web sites, but the parallel use for resumes is clear.  And, you may want to develop your own employment web site.