White Space, Let Me Introduce You to the Resume
Remember in school when you'd be handed a reading assignment and it was jam packed with single-spaced blocks of tiny text and the idea of getting through it left you feeling downright overwhelmed? Just reading the first paragraph you could feel your eye straining and your head getting heavy. That feeling of being crushed by the information in front of you is what happens when there isn't enough white space. Ask anyone in HR and they will tell you they avoid that feeling by tossing out resumes that look like biographies rather than curated highlight reels. Keep in mind, they are your audience and you need to create a document that gives them what they need, QUICKLY!
White space, or negative space, is the area around or between the focus of a composition. If you are thinking it is a term out of an art class, you would be right, but its presence in your resume is paramount for one specific reason:
It makes your resume easier to read!
White space gives the eye a place to rest between ideas. It gives your information room to breathe. It separates sections and guides the reader’s eye to points YOU deem as important. The space saves readers time and frustration and actually makes them more comfortable. Above all else, white space allows a resume to be skimmable and, when you only have about 6 seconds to make an impression with HR, that makes it essential for success.
A document without white space is not skimmable. Period: End of story.
When a resume has substantial white space, all the key points of your document jump off the page. Your accomplishments can stand out in their bullet points, your contact information is easily found; if someone is scanning for a specific point like what type of degree you have or if you worked at a certain job title, a balanced layout allows his or her eyes to skip around and find those details with ease. That is the type of thing HR likes. If they can grab all the facts they need in a quick glance, they're much more likely to move you into a YES pile.
So how do you create this all important spacing?
Choose a font that is easy to read and avoid single-spaced paragraphs. Keep an eye on your margins (like making sure you have some)! Consistently put in breaks between sections and make use of headings and bullet points to draw attention to the most compelling reasons why you are the right person for the job. Resumes and careers are like snowflakes so each one is a bit different. That means there are no hard and fast rules to white space but keeping these concepts in mind will help you craft something that is much more reader-friendly going forward.
Not sure if your resume has enough white space? Take our free 6-Second Test to see if your resume has what it takes to land you that coveted interview. You may be surprised. Stop wasting time and chances with a resume you aren’t sure about and find out today!