What is the KIS Formula for Resume Writing

In the world of job hunting, a professional resume is your passport to securing an interview. As such, the importance of carefully crafting your resume cannot be overstated. However, with an array of experiences, skills, and qualifications to showcase, resume writing can seem like a daunting task. How can you effectively condense your professional journey into a concise document that captures a hiring manager’s attention? The answer lies in a simple yet powerful approach: the KIS formula. Standing for ‘Keep It Simple,’ this strategy emphasizes the importance of a clear, focused, and concise resume. This article will guide you through the ins and outs of implementing the KIS formula in your resume writing process.

Understanding the KIS Formula

The KIS or ‘Keep It Simple’ formula for resume writing is a cornerstone in crafting a compelling, professional resume. Its principle is straightforward—your resume should be clean, precise, and easy-to-digest, highlighting your most relevant information to the job you’re targeting.

The KIS formula is comprised of several key elements:

  1. Clear Layout and Formatting: Your resume should have a clean, uncluttered layout that’s easy on the eye. Bullet points can be a great tool for breaking up information into readable chunks. Consistent use of fonts, sizes, and styles also contributes to a clear and professional resume.
  2. Relevant Information: Your resume is not an autobiography, but a strategic showcase of your suitability for a specific role. Therefore, it’s crucial to include only the most pertinent information related to the job you’re applying for.
  3. Concise Language: Be straightforward and concise in your language. Avoid complex jargon and lengthy sentences. Every word on your resume should serve a purpose.
  4. Active Verbs: Use active verbs to describe your achievements and responsibilities. This makes your resume more dynamic and engaging.
  5. Tailored Content: Each resume you send should be tailored to the specific role you’re applying for. This increases the chances of your resume aligning with the keywords and requirements outlined in the job description.
  6. Proofreading: Lastly, meticulously proofread your resume to avoid spelling, grammar, or formatting errors. This final step ensures that your resume looks polished and professional.

In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into each element of the KIS formula, providing practical tips on how to ‘keep it simple’ while still making a strong impact with your resume.

It’s important to note that at one time it was called the KISS formula for Keep it Short and Simple, or the more popular known term scripted by the U.S. Navy in 1960 – Keep It Simple, Stupid!

The Importance of Clear Layout and Formatting

In the world of resume writing, first impressions matter. One glance at a cluttered or confusing resume, and a hiring manager might move on to the next candidate. This is why the first aspect of the ‘Keep It Simple’ formula emphasizes a clear layout and formatting.

A professional resume should be visually appealing and easy to navigate. Use bullet points to organize information and make your achievements and skills stand out. Avoid using more than two types of fonts to keep your resume looking consistent and professional. Stick to traditional fonts like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman, which are easy to read. Check out our best practices article for more information on developing a strong resume.

White space is also your friend. It provides visual breathing room, making your resume less overwhelming. Each section of your resume, such as your summary, work/professional experience, skills, and education, should be clearly defined with ample white space around them.

Remember, a well-structured, cleanly formatted resume not only looks good, but it also makes it easier for hiring managers to quickly find the information they’re looking for.

The Role of Relevant Information in Resume Writing

Your resume serves as a reflection of your professional journey. However, it doesn’t need to include every step along the way. According to the ‘Keep It Simple’ formula, your resume should highlight only the information that’s most relevant to the job you’re applying for.

This principle applies to all sections of your resume. For instance, when detailing your work experience, focus on roles and responsibilities that align with the job you’re targeting. Under each job title, use bullet points to highlight relevant achievements and responsibilities.

The same goes for your skills section. List only those skills that are pertinent to the job. For instance, if you’re applying for a graphic design role, your proficiency in Adobe Illustrator is relevant, but your sales certification is not.

Remember, every piece of information on your resume should support the narrative that you’re the right fit for the job. By focusing on relevant information, you can create a powerful, focused resume that resonates with hiring managers.

The Power of Concise Language and Active Verbs

The ‘Keep It Simple’ formula also applies to the language you use in your resume. Clear, concise language is key to conveying your qualifications and achievements effectively. Dense blocks of text can be off-putting to hiring managers who are skimming through numerous to hundreds of resumes. Instead, use bullet points and concise descriptions to communicate your professional story.

Active verbs play a critical role in making your descriptions more dynamic. They add a sense of energy and initiative to your resume. Rather than starting your bullet points with ‘responsible for’, use powerful verbs like ‘led’, ‘managed’, ‘initiated’, ‘developed’, or ‘implemented’. For instance, instead of writing “Was responsible for managing a team of five salespeople,” you could write “Managed a dynamic sales team of five, increasing overall sales by 20%.” This not only sounds more engaging but also highlights your achievement. Check out our 75 best action words to enhance your resume.

Remember, your aim is to convey maximum impact with minimum words. Every word should add value to your professional narrative.

Tailoring Your Resume Content

Perhaps one of the most vital elements of the KIS formula is tailoring your resume content. A generic resume might not resonate with hiring managers. In contrast, a resume customized for a specific job can significantly increase your chances of landing an interview.

Start by thoroughly reviewing the job description. Identify the key skills, qualifications, and responsibilities listed. Then, tailor your resume to reflect these keywords. This can be done in your professional summary, skills, and work/professional experience sections. Use bullet points to clearly and concisely align your past experiences and skills with the job requirements.

A tailored resume shows the hiring manager that you’ve put thought into your application and that you understand what the role requires. It also increases the likelihood of your resume getting past Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which often scan for keywords from the job description.

By keeping it simple and strategically aligning your resume with the job description, you can create a compelling, professional resume that stands out to hiring managers.

The Necessity of Proofreading

Even the most well-crafted resume can be undermined by spelling, grammatical, or formatting errors. These errors can suggest a lack of attention to detail, thereby damaging your professional image. This is why the final element of the ‘Keep It Simple’ formula emphasizes the importance of thorough proofreading. You can also use amazing tools like Grammarly to simplify the review/proofreading process. This tool is an incredible asset that you can use as a plugin on your browser or on platforms like Microsoft Word.

Before you send your resume, make sure to meticulously proofread it. Don’t just rely on spell-check tools; they might not catch homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings) or issues with sentence structure. Read your resume aloud to help identify awkward sentences or word repetitions.

In addition, consider asking a trusted friend or mentor to review your resume. A fresh set of eyes can often spot errors you may have overlooked.


The ‘Keep It Simple’ formula offers a straightforward approach to crafting a standout, professional resume. By focusing on a clear layout, relevant information, concise language, active verbs, tailored content, and meticulous proofreading, you can create a powerful resume that effectively communicates your professional journey.

Remember, your resume serves as a key marketing tool in your job search, opening doors to potential interviews. Therefore, each word, bullet point, and piece of information should be strategically chosen and presented.

As you embark on your resume writing process, let the KIS formula guide you. With its focus on clarity, relevance, and simplicity, it ensures your resume is not just another document but a compelling narrative of your professional journey. Let’s ‘Keep It Simple,’ focus on what matters, and make your resume a powerful tool in your career advancement.

About Simply Great Resumes

Simply Great Resumes, spearheaded by Kerry Gustafson, stands out for its superior resume writing and career coaching services. As the best executive resume writing service in Milwaukee, we furnish personalized career documents and sell ATS-optimized resume templates.