The path to a great new job is forged with an exceptional new resume. Many jobseekers know this already. However, most don't understand that resume design matters almost as much as the content in the document.
You don't have to be a graphic artist to create a resume design that will get you noticed. In fact, it's important to avoid elaborate borders, images, and other distracting embellishments that take the focus away from your accomplishments. It's an especially good move if you are learning how to write a resume. These design elements might actually hurt your chances of being hired.
Instead of trying to get the attention of a recruiter through visual bells and whistles, focus on utilizing a resume design that focuses attention on the document's great writing and stellar organization. Resumes that accomplish this are easier to read, appealing to recruiters, and more likely to survive an ATS.
Below, we outlined eight tips for resume design and writing that will help you showcase your skills, experience, and education without compromising your resume's visual appeal. Read on and learn!
What Your Resume Design Should Look Like in 2021
1. Make your header bold and easy-to-read.
In our sample resume, Amelia used a larger font to call attention to her name and a double-ruled line to separate her contact information out from her resume material.
Pro tip: Each time you create a resume, double check that all of your contact information is accurate, especially if you are using a draft of an old resume. Old versions of your resume may contain outdated email addresses or phone numbers.
2. What font should I use for my resume?
Fonts to consider using for your resume include Arial, Times New Roman, and Courier. Avoid using excessively artsy fonts, like Broadway or Magneto. One of your primary goals with writing a resume is to make the document easy to read. You accomplish this by using a classic, clean font.
3. What about your street address?
Modern resume writers omit their physical street addresses on their resumes. The advent of email and telephone communication has largely eradicated the need to provide a recruiter with your physical address. After all, when is the last time you received an interview invitation via snail mail?
Applicants who are looking to relocate for a job often choose to include their current mailing address, but otherwise, it's up to you whether or not to include an address.
4. Put your best content up top.
Regardless of which resume design you choose, before you start writing, curate your content to cull your most impressive skills and achievement from your resume. It's true that writing a great resume can take hours, but studies show that recruiters and hiring managers are spending a fraction of that time reviewing the fruits of your labor.
According to one study, recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing an individual resume. The takeaway? Candidates have just seconds to make an impression and convince a recruiter to delve deeper into their qualifications. This means that utilizing a resume design that incorporates a professional summary section is critical, as is organizing your information coherently throughout your resume so that a recruiter can zero in on your qualifications quickly.
5. Craft a killer professional summary.
A professional summary sits at the top of your resume beneath your header. Its purpose is to offer a recruiter a quick snapshot of your experience and qualifications. Ultimately, a well-written professional summary must explain what you'll bring to the table if you are hired.
You must write your professional summary in the third person, and you should give a brief description of who you are (for example, "A deadline-driven journalist with seven years of experience").
Summaries should be short ¬— no longer than three to five sentences — and concise. The idea is to draw the reader in and make them feel compelled to read the rest of your resume. Don't give your entire life story.
6. Personalize your resume, especially your skills section.
Regardless of the resume design you choose, it should feature a prominent skills section. It is critical that you customize this section for every job application you write. Since many companies use applicant tracking systems (or ATS) to weed out unqualified candidates, wording your resume precisely is crucial to get past the robots and onto a recruiter's desk.
How do you do this? First, carefully read the job ad and list all of the skills, experience, and educational requirements it calls for. Next, make a list of all of those qualifications that you possess. Add those to your resume using the exact language used in the job ad.
Why is echoing the language in the job ad so important? Because it's the only way to get your resume past an ATS. Seriously. Most ATSs cannot understand any nuance in language, which means that if a job ad calls for a candidate with "supreme customer service skills," and you write that you are "great with customers" you could be eliminated, even though those two statements mean the same thing.
7. What are some good skills to put on a resume?
Always aim to incorporate the skills that are emphasized in the job description (but only if you have those skills). Skills that are typically added to resumes include hard skills (like software or technical expertise) and soft skills (like communication skills, or time management skills).
8. How far back do you go on your resume?
The general rule of thumb with work history/Experience section of a resume is that you share all relevant jobs. If you have more than a decade of experience in your field, then you can cut your earliest jobs from your resume.
9. How many pages is too many for a resume?
Include one page on your resume for every 10 years of experience. Try not to go over two pages, even if you have a lot of experience. That said, a resume that goes past two pages is sometimes the norm for highly experienced job-seekers applying to VP/senior-level roles.
10. Concentrate on consistency.
Your work experience section is chock full of important information and, depending on the resume design you choose, also chock full of opportunities to ruin the formatting of your resume.
Once you've written all of your past work experience, and packed each entry full of the keywords and skills you've pulled from the job ad, double check that the resume format is consistent.
Start by making sure each entry has the company name, location, and dates of employment listed, all in the same order. Next check that all of your bullet points are aligned and that all of your margins line up.
Resume format is just as important as the resume design; keeping the formatting uniform will help a recruiter find the information they need with ease.
11. Don't be afraid of white space.
When deciding on a resume design, opt for one that utilizes a good amount of white space. In our resume same above, Amelia uses a highly organized resume design that relies heavily on white space. This allows the reader's eye to rest and easily seek out the information they need. Don't be tempted to fill every line on the page.
12. Proofread. Every. Single. Time.
Even a professional resume design can save your resume from a glaring typo. Make no mistake about it: even a tiny typo can land your resume in the recycle bin. Read your resume twice. Then read it backward. Next, send it to a trusted friend.
Complete these steps every time you write a resume, as they will change when you customize them to the job post. Even if you simply decide to input previously edited material into another resume design, you'll want to proof it again to make sure that all of the information transferred properly and that all of your margins line up.
A great resume is your ticket into the job you want. Keep your resume design clean and simple and focus on writing the more engaging document possible.
For quick and easy resume design and writing prompts, check out MyPerfectResume's resume builder to create a personalized resume. Choose from our selection of tried-and-true resume designs and have a customized resume finished in minutes!