5 ways to declutter your resume so you can stand out

Your resume is the quick window and snapshot to you and allows potential employers to decide on whether they would like to see more.

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A study launched by ladders in 2018 found that employers and recruiters make up their mind on your resume in 7.5 seconds. That is basically how long you have to make an impression. Clearly that is not a lot of time for you to make them want to find out more about you. Cluttered resumes particularly those with too much text, do not immediately convey the value that you have to offer.

In this post, I am sharing 5 ways to declutter your resume so you can convey information quickly and effectively and so you can get to the next level.

1. Lose the header line

The fact that you have applied for a job or submitted your resume means that you are in fact looking for a job. Plus more often than not you will not have a header that matches the particular job that you are applying for or else you will have to update it every single time you apply. Save that real estate in your resume for content.

2. Focus on results/achievements

Rather than have a dry list of tasks that you have done or that you do in your day job, rephrase the bullets into results or achievements. Don't just tell the recruiter or employer that you take notes during meetings - provide a result: keep the team organized by taking high quality and timely records of discussions following meetings.

Instead of:

  • "Collected survey data from email subscribers."

  • "Oversaw day-to-day operations of the warehouse."

  • "Created software applications to improve communication flow."


  • "Collected survey data from 1,000 email subscribers. Used this data to implement four new marketing strategies that helped increase sales numbers by 15% within three months."

  • "Oversaw a team of 20 employees. Delegated tasks among employees to increase overall productivity by 25%."

  • "Created five software applications to assist in communication across all 12 company departments. Miscommunication decreased by 10% as a result."

Check out more ways to make your resume more results oriented at Indeed.com

3. Consistent fonts

Remember you have 7.5 seconds to make an impression. The fonts on your resume need to be consistent - whatever font you chose for the heading or the paragraphs or for dates should be the same for each instance you use it. Spacings should also be consistent. If you're using bullets in one paragraph, don't then use arrows in the next and squares in the next - trust me, I have seen this happen.

4. Titles for each section

Make sure you give a distinction to the different sections of your resume so your reader knows what to expect e.g. education, professional experience, conferences and publications. If you don't have as much professional experience you can title the section on experience as relevant experience; if you would like to make the distinction between volunteer experience and professional experience then use titles to separate the two.

5. Remove references from the resume

Unless the job posting explicitly asks for references from the get-go, this is another section that you can lose from your resume. This precious real-estate can be repurposed into other content. Usually as the hiring process advances, the team will contact you directly and request that you send them a list of references. Instead you can include a line in your resume that "References are available upon request" that way the team knows that you can provide these at a later time.

Remember the 7 second rule: make it easy and straightforward for the recruiter or the hiring manager to want to have a conversation with you. If the information is clearly laid out and you're making a clear pitch for why you are the person they are looking for, they will most likely reach out for a conversation with you.

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