Most resumes I read are as flat as the piece of paper they were written on. Many are created using templates that probably came out with a Microsoft Word package released more than a decade ago and very few use any design elements to draw attention to the most relevant content.
Everyone thinks there are certain rules around resumes…rules that dictate conformity…conformity in content, length, and even font size. But the truth is that conformity has no place in a job search. The goal is to stand out and this is particularly true of resumes.
Now, I’m not suggesting that a novel design format will mask poor content; accomplishment focused, metrics driven information about the impact you have had on an organization will generally trump design, but design elements that help the reader focus on your core competencies and achievements will better market you than a drab resume any day. Here are some design tips that will help improve the professional presentation and readability and add “bling” to the document to keep your reader engaged.
- Bolding. This technique can help accentuate key facts, numbers, company names, job titles, or competencies.
- Shading. Shaded areas tend to be looked at first. Consider putting a success story, key client list, or glowing testimonial in a shaded box for added impact.
- Charts and Graphs. Want to show an increase in sales or a decrease in time spent on a particular task? Try using a simple table, pie chart, or bar graph to illustrate your point.
- Images. Are you in a creative field where an image might best convey the value you could add to an organization? Don’t wait until they ask to see your portfolio. Consider putting a “teaser” in the resume to strut your stuff.
- Color. Subtle color can be used to add some flair to a document, improve readability, and capture the reader’s attention.