Resume Tips: Single or Multiple Column Formatting?

What resume formatting yields the highest interview rate? Keep reading to learn about the ideal resume template to maximize your chances of landing that offer!

Michael Yan
Published: (Updated: ) - 3 min read

Photo by João Ferrão / Unsplash

Looking for the ideal resume template? Here's the template I (Michael, the author) found with the highest interview rate after applying to 200+ companies with varying resume templates!

It's also commonly recommended by career counselors at school's like Stanford and Harvard – keep reading to find out why!

Putting together a resume is probably the first and most important step in the search for a job or internship. As one of the founders of Simplify, I've helped hundreds of our candidates review their resumes before applying to jobs.

One of the most common mistakes I see job seekers make is in the overarching formatting of a resume. Keep on reading to learn about the differences in resume formatting, the pros and cons of each style, and why a single-column resume gives you the highest chance of getting an interview!

Multiple Column Resumes (and why they're bad)

Resumes like the one below are often touted as the "gold standard" for what a resume should look like. From the font to the layout to the icons, everything about it is visually pleasing. You can find hundreds of these templates on online resume builders and put together your own in minutes. But should you?

What's most misleading about creating a resume in this format is that, despite being visually "nice-to-look-at," it usually does more harm than good when it comes to getting you an interview from a potential employer.

What's to blame? Resume parsers.

A resume parser is a computer program designed to scan a resume, analyze it and extract information important to recruiters and hiring managers. Nearly every job portal uses one, and it's what allows recruiters to quickly search through applicants for specific keywords (for example: Microsoft Excel, Python, public speaking, Stanford, etc.).

Many of these softwares struggle to read the complex formatting of a multiple-column resume, which are often cluttered with information. This means that recruiters won't be able to use these softwares to quickly search and index your resume, often leading to an auto-rejection.

Some career experts have found that companies reject nearly 70% of applicants because of issues found at the resume parsing stage.

I (Michael) actually started the job search process with a two column resume. After switching to a simple, one-column resume, I immediately got more callbacks and interviews from the same online job applications – the difference was night and day. Even though it was hard to let go of my *beautiful* two-column resume, it certainly helped me land my first internship offer. If you really want to keep your two-column resume, no problem! Print out a dozen and only use the print copies – don't upload them when applying online.

Single Column Resumes

They're basic, they're simple, they're basic – but they work! In fact, many college counselors at colleges like Stanford and MIT recommend the exact template shown below. This sort of template is "resume-parser friendly" and will ensure that your information is properly read and indexed by the software used by companies you're applying to.

Click this resume to get the template!

One other common mistake is the order candidates list experiences and educations on resumes. The information on your resume should be in reverse chronological order – in other words, most recent experiences listed first.

And that just about sums it up! You're ready to build your resume. When you're applying online, making sure your resume gets past the resume parser is your primary goal, so sticking to a single-column resume is your best bet. Here at Simplify, we've got a whole series of resume tips coming soon so if you haven't already, sign-up and learn how to maximize your chances of getting that dream offer. You got this!

Your resume and cover letter are the most important components of your application. Now that you've got your resume down, check out our blog post on cover letter templates and advice!