En Route: A Career Blog

What’s the correct resume design for you?

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
POSTED: April 23, 2013 at 9:54 am

One of the first things a hiring manager or recruiter sees is your resume design. In a split second, that individual will form an opinion of your document. The verdict will either be – ‘this looks professional’ – or ‘what a mess’. If the conclusion is the latter, your content may not be read. There are many other candidates vying for a limited amount of positions. Even if your content is stellar, your presentation must also be excellent.

Mistakes to Avoid

  • Length: Don’t try to cram a three page resume into a one page document under the mistaken notion that hiring managers and recruiters prefer the abbreviated length. Nothing could be further from the truth. Resumes are as long as they need to be, provided they contain only relevant information for the job search. That means don’t include the time you spent delivering pizzas if you’re now seeking a finance position.
  • Use of Bolding: Using bolding within a resume should be limited to section headings such as “Summary of Qualifications”, “Professional Experience”, “Education”. Don’t make the mistake of bolding words in the text portions of your resume. It’s jarring to look at and is comparable to someone screaming – ‘hey, LOOK AT THIS!’
  • Use of Italics: Many candidates believe that italics will draw the reader’s eye toward the most important parts of the resume. While this may be true, italics are also very difficult to read. Take this opening paragraph for example:

Articulate Professional with an outstanding record of success in the consumer products sector. Oversaw a $120 million hair product business with eleven brands for Picture Perfect, Inc. (Paul Meyer & Associates) as the Product Manager, and generated $72 million in sales as the Associate Product Manager. Background also includes $40 million in annual sales for TrendWear, Inc. Consistently promoted to positions of increased responsibility; honored with Picture Perfect’s President’s Award and TrendWear’s Assistant Buyer of the Year Award. Bilingual, with fluency in Spanish. Willing to relocate and to travel.

The content should be what draws the reader in, not cosmetic fixes such as using italics or bolding.

  • Use of Graphics: If you’re in a creative field (graphic designer, artist, etc.), then it’s perfectly all right to display your work on your resume. In fact, it’s visually arresting. However, if you’re in banking, finance, consulting or any other conservative field, leave the graphics off. You might think it’s cool to include photos of serene mountain landscapes on your resume. The hiring manager and recruiter will be mystified as to why you did. Not a good thing.
  • Use of quotations: Few things are as unacceptable or as unprofessional as placing political or religious quotes on a resume. They have no place on a business document. What’s more, you risk offending the hiring authority when you promote an agenda.

Conservative versus Stylish Templates

Unless you’re in an artistic field, it’s best to stick with the conservative template, making your content accomplishment focused rather than task based. The below (page one of a two-page resume) is a perfect example of a stellar conservative template. It’s organized beautifully, uses white space appropriately and is easy to navigate.

Marian page 1 after

The idea is to make certain that the presentation is attractive, easy-to-read and appropriate to your industry. The template or design you use should never overshadow the resume content. It should enhance what you have to offer, enticing a hiring manager or recruiter to read further.

The certified writers at ResumeEdge have decades of experience in crafting achievement-based resumes for 40+ industries. We specialize in resume writing, resume editing, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and interview coaching through our JobInterviewEdge service.

Darlene Z.

Darlene Zambruski is a resume writing expert and CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) with more than 13 years of industry experience. She has authored 10,000+ resumes in every industry and at every career level.

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