nonartistic job seeker

Resume Design Tips for the Nonartistic Job Seeker

When searching for a job, it’s true that every edge you can gain on the competition counts. While you may know the ins and outs of your career story better than anyone, how can you be expected to compete with a similar candidate who, because of a design-related background, has a resume that is a work of art? Before giving up hope, why not try thinking about the situation a little differently:

If Picasso had a resume, he’d learn that cubism is too confusing as a layout.

Vincent van Gogh’s wavy impressionism would have made his application utterly unreadable.

And Da Vinci? Even the Mona Lisa wouldn’t smile at his special skills section!

In other words? You don’t need to be an artist to have a winning resume design! In fact, by paying attention to a few simple design best practices, your resume can wow hiring managers by striking the perfect balance between form and function.

Here are our top tips for resume design for those of us who were not born with a paintbrush in hand:

Readability is Priority #1

It has been well published that recruiters, on average, will spend only six seconds reviewing an individual resume. With such a small window of time to work with, there are no seconds to spare! Confusing readers with unnecessary artistic elements can drastically cut into your viewing time. That’s why it’s important to focus on readability first. Choose a layout that guides your reader through an easy to understand flow, with the most important information hitting eyes first.

Additionally, avoid extremely tiny font if you’re fitting in a lot of information; after 11pt size, your resume will become a blur. If you are having trouble fitting it all in at this size, try switching up your font to another professional style. Widths vary by each font style, so find what works best for you!

Keep It Consistent

Consistency counts. If you use a certain style on one portion of your resume, it is important to maintain this style throughout. This certainly applies to font selection. While a slight variety between headline text and body text can help differentiate your content, there’s no reason to pair together entirely different fonts in one document. Stick to one selection, and vary it with size, boldness and other features. Consistency matters far beyond font, too! Bulleting styles, punctuation patterns and other repeated elements should always match similar pieces of your resume.

A Little Goes a Long Way

The modern resume does not need to be entirely bland. In fact, a splash of color or a small graphic element can really help to make your document pop! However, any more than a dash of these elements could wind up overwhelming your readers. Let the content of your career shine, and use these elements as extra spice, not the main dish.

 Have a Bare Bones Backup

A beautifully designed resume in a high quality format (such as PDF) may be an attractive choice, but it pays to always keep a plain text version at the ready. This version of your resume is best described as bare bones; formatting is stripped away to leave only black and white content with no special characters. This type of file is important to have as it can most easily be uploaded due to its small file size and will be most easily read on all platforms. Some online application forms will not accept your fancy document early in the application process, so hold onto your resume designed to impress until an opportunity arises.

Print It Out

Once you’ve got a frame-worthy resume on hand, take time to print out a physical copy for review. Designs can change drastically based on how they are viewed; just as different devices show documents differently, a paper copy of your resume may help you identify areas for edits you might miss digitally!

Your resume may never end up hanging in an art gallery, but with these tips, it might just catch the eye of an admiring recruiter someday soon! What are you favorite design tips for resume revisionists? Share them below!

10 thoughts on “Resume Design Tips for the Nonartistic Job Seeker

  1. I have two questions one how many pages should your resume be and how much of your work history should you include

    • Hi Sarah,
      Thank you for joining the conversation; these are great questions that I’m sure we’ve all had to ask along the way. In short, the answers to both of these questions vary by industry and individual. Rather than focusing on a hard and fast rule (1 page only, 3 past jobs, etc.) try instead to choose the best format and information that applies to the specific opportunity at hand. Maybe you want to highlight more charity work in one application, while leaning on detailed work experience in another; it pays to think of each opportunity as a new project. If you would like more help on your job application materials, I encourage you to reach out to a recruiter so we can explore your resume in more depth!

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