Resume Design Tips to Help You Stand Out From the Crowd

Designing an outstanding resume is a crucial element to landing your dream job. Resumes and cover letters are the entry point to the interview – and you want your first impression to convince the hiring committee that they need to have an interview with you!

Resume design sounds straightforward, but many people don’t take the time to consider how their information appears on paper. You can have amazing credentials, but if it’s laid out in a way that is hard to read or gives an unprofessional appearance, you will find yourself dismissed from consideration before you even had a chance to speak.

When I sat down to write my tips for creating a great resume, I thought I could fit all of my advice into one post. As I began putting all of my thoughts into writing, I quickly found I had way more to say than I had space for!

My last post focused on what to include to have a resume that captivates attention. Today, I’m going to provide some insight into the proper resume design. A great resume design will cause the hiring manager to pause and want to read the amazing content you’ve thoughtfully compiled. And once you have mastered your resume, it’s time to write the perfect cover letter and prepare for the interview.

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Resume Example: Good Vs Bad Use of White Space

Pay Attention to White Space

First off, don’t make your resume design look too sparse. It’s true that you don’t want to pad your resume with fake experiences. But having too much white space dilutes the strong first impression you want to make. I was on a hiring committee where my supervisor was lukewarm towards a candidate because their resume looked exactly like the bad example above. Even though they had a strong background and exceeded the expectations of the position, they didn’t make a strong impression until the first interview. That’s a solid four weeks after we began reviewing candidates!

While you don’t want your resume design to appear empty, you also want to avoid a cluttered look from packing in too much information. I’ve found this comes about in one of two different ways.

Applicants from the Baby Boomer and GenX generations simply keep adding pages of information to their resumes. While the formatting is consistent throughout, quite frankly it’s a drag to read through. It makes me waste my time determining which aspects of the resume fit my needs as a hiring manager. As one of my favorite memes likes to say… Ain’t nobody got time for that!

On the other hand, most millennials have had at least one class in college or high school that taught them to keep their resumes to one page. Awesome. However, the problem is they tend to crowd every piece of information on that one sheet. Now I have too little white space. Instead of endless pages of information, I feel like I’m staring at a cheat sheet with minuscule writing to make sure all of the answers are included.

You want to give the just right amount of information – enough that makes me eager to move you to the next interview. Add enough white space to make information easy to find and to highlight exactly how you are my dream candidate while avoiding making your resume look empty.

Related: The Perfect Cover Letter

 

Your Design Here

Create a Personal Brand

Copying a stock resume template you found on a website can be a good place to start. It will help you achieve the foundational principles of a resume – knowing what information to include, lining up everything in a recognizable format, etc. It will help you move from the “toss” pile to the “good” pile.

But you don’t want to be just good. You want to be great. Let your resume reflect your personality – it will help you stand out against the crowd.

Start by picking the right font. Yes, Times New Roman and Calibri are automatic selections in Microsoft Word. In my opinion, good resumes appear more professional by using serif font instead of a sans serif font. There are tons of great serif fonts out there! If you don’t know where to start, pick a different font for each paragraph and see which one you like. Personally, I’ve been using Garamond since college. I make sure that I use my chosen font not only in my resume but also in my list of references and my cover letter. You create a cohesive application that will help the hiring committee pair all of your information together because each part of the application is branded to you.

Add a touch of design to your resume. Most people assume this means something out of the box like flashy colors or a beautiful headshot. Yet, design can be as simple as adding the right lines to help break up information. Working on my resume years ago, I struggled with the fact that my resume design had too much white space. Even though I adequately filled one page with the right information, it just didn’t stand out. I decided to add a double line border around the page just to see what would happen. As soon as it appeared, I knew it was the answer. It added a level of detail that reflected my personality. I love it when things are symmetrical!

Related: An Unforgettable Thank You Card



Consistent Formatting on Resume vs Inconsistent Formatting on Resume

Keep Your Formatting Consistent

It doesn’t really matter which resume design you use; make sure it stays the same throughout your resume! A great example of this is how you list dates. I’ve seen a lot of resumes that will start by spelling out the month and year (August 2017) but will later abbreviate the month (Aug 2017). Here’s a great list to help you get started:

  • Are all of your dates in the same format?
  • Do you list company and job title in the same order for each position?
  • Does all of your information line up correctly? Are your dates in line with each other? What about positions, titles, and responsibilities?
  • Are your responsibilities complete sentences or fragments?
  • Do you start all your responsibilities with the same part of speech (i.e., verb or noun)?

It may not appear to be a big deal, but I can almost guarantee that every job to which you will apply wants an applicant who is detail-oriented. But how do you tell if someone you’ve never met is detail-oriented? One of the first clues I look for is consistency in a resume. If someone took the time to make sure each and every position perfectly reflects the previous position in design and formatting, I feel confident they will bring that same level of detail as an employee.

Related: Preparing for the Interview




Finanical plan report

Make Your Resume Print-Friendly

Even though you are submitting everything electronically, there’s a chance that someone is still going to print out your resume and mark it up with a good old-fashioned pen. I tend to take it a step further and color over the entire thing. Each color I use represents a different part of the job description. To really impress me, applicants need all the colors on their resume. Also, I really love colorful things.

The best way to make your resume print-friendly is to submit everything in a PDF format. I have yet to run across any online job application that does not take PDF. The reason I prefer it over a Word document is because Microsoft Word will automatically adjust formatting depending on the version the user has available. You could have something formatted to perfection in Microsoft Office 2010, but when someone uses a newer version, it may change the formatting ever so slightly and place things just out of sync. A PDF locks the format into place and makes sure that everything is printed as you intended it to be.

What questions do you have about resumes? If you’ve got a great design, let us know!

Designing an outstanding resume is a crucial element to landing your dream job. Resume design sounds straightforward, but people tend to overlook. We have the resume design tips you need to get your resume noticed. dream job | career advice | millennials | resume |job search | resume that grabs attention | resume that stands out | resume that captivates attention | landing dream job | perfect job | job search | job hunt | writing resume | resume tips | resume design tips

Designing an outstanding resume is a crucial element to landing your dream job. Resume design sounds straightforward, but people tend to overlook. We have the resume design tips you need to get your resume noticed. dream job | career advice | millennials | resume |job search | resume that grabs attention | resume that stands out | resume that captivates attention | landing dream job | perfect job | job search | job hunt | writing resume | resume tips | resume design tips
Designing an outstanding resume is a crucial element to landing your dream job. Resume design sounds straightforward, but people tend to overlook. We have the resume design tips you need to get your resume noticed. dream job | career advice | millennials | resume |job search | resume that grabs attention | resume that stands out | resume that captivates attention | landing dream job | perfect job | job search | job hunt | writing resume | resume tips | resume design tips

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2 Comments

  • Reply Brittany March 22, 2018 at 11:34 am

    I certainly had my fair share of bad resume type ups… very inconsistent and lots of white space! It took me awhile to really perfect it.
    Great tips!

    • Reply Jaclyn March 22, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      Thank you! It’s amazing how much you learn over time. As I was looking over posts on other websites and resumes examples, one of them mentioned putting your academic background at the end of your resume when you get to a point where your career experience carries more weight than your academic success. I didn’t know that, but I realized that I’ve seen that play out in the resumes of candidates who were more established career wise.

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