Have you ever gone to an interview wearing a torn t-shirt and old jeans?
Or a pair of shorts and some sneakers?
Of course not. We all dress up for interviews because we want to make a good impression.
And yet millions of people ignore the importance of resume design, sending out resumes that are messy and hard-to-read. This is the equivalent of wearing unkempt clothes to an interview.
Your resume is your very first chance to make an impression on an employer, so make it count by creating something that is attractive and easy-to-read.
Design with the Strategy in Mind
I’m not just talking about choosing a simple, easy-to-read font, or making sure that there is lots of white space – although these things matter. What’s much more important is to ensure that you lay out your resume with your strategy in mind.
If you’ve decided that your most important message is your knowledge of emerging technologies, you should have incorporated this into your resume headline and summary.
But now it’s important to make sure that this message is clearly communicated and easy to see at first glance. You can do this by bolding your headline, and using other formatting tricks to draw attention to the message repetition throughout the document.
Let’s look at some examples
This resume was written for a sales rep. We decided his most important selling point was his ability to increase sales even when things were tough or there was a lot of competition.
Notice how the content choices are powerful – especially the headline and the highlighting of his awards in the top third of the resume. (These awards serve as ‘proof’ that he really does deliver as promised in the headline).
But the content choices are made more powerful by the use of bolding and grey shading to draw attention to the key points.
Now before you go making changes to your resume, it’s important to note that there are lots of different ways of using design to highlight key points – this is only one of them and you shouldn’t copy it as it may not be right for you.
This client is a well-known illustrator and cartoonist .
Here we have used an image – one of the client’s own drawings – which wouldn’t be suitable for all professions but works really well for art-related resumes.
Next we’ve included a quote from a top politician (on the actual resume we used his real name) and used formatting to make it stand out.
Finally we used bolding to draw attention to the top newspapers that have featured client’s work.
Hiring managers and recruiters are frazzled. They have lots to do and not enough time, so when they review resumes, they scan each one very quickly.
If they see what they want, they will file the resume as a ‘yes’ or ‘maybe.’ If not, the resume will be filed as a ‘no.’
This is one of the most common reasons for qualified people to miss out on great opportunities.
The information may be in your resume, but if it doesn’t jump off the page, the hiring manager or recruiter will miss it.
That’s why design is so important. The best resume content in the world won’t work if people can’t read it easily, or if information is bunched up on the page so that they don’t even see the most important facts.
You can also be too creative
Occasionally a really creative resume design works well – especially for those in design fields. But by and large, it’s best to stay on the conservative side with your design.
Those frazzled hiring managers expect your resume to be laid out in the traditional manner and this is how they skim read to get what they need. If yours completely breaks the mold, you could find yourself losing out simply because they couldn’t find the information they needed.
The best resume design advice I can give is keep it simple, clean and 100% focused on communicating your unique value as clearly as possible.
That’s the end of this series
I hope it’s inspired you to make some meaningful changes to your resume (if so, make sure you sign up for my free course).
Writing a great resume is a challenge. Balancing design and content, knowing exactly what to include and what to leave out, targeting every word to your selected audience … all these are tricky. But when you get it right, the rewards come in the form of phone calls and interviews. It’s worth spending some time to get to that point!