How to Choose the Best Resume Layout

Hiring managers may look through dozens of resumes at a time, so the way you present yourself on your resume can be just as valuable as your work experience itself. To catch a hiring manager’s eye, create a well-designed resume with a logical layout.

Whether you choose a chronological, functional or combination/hybrid resume format, your resume should still contain the same basic sections. Their formatting and importance will vary depending on the format you choose and your own credentials, but they should all include:

  1. Contact information
  2. Summary
  3. Work experience
  4. Skills
  5. Education

Here, we’ll provide tips on how to design an eye-catching resume and create the perfect layout. Our Resume Builder also offers step-by-step guidance to help you create a professional resume that you’ll be proud to submit.

The hiring manager may expect your resume’s design to show off your personal style.

Tips for Resume Design

When it comes to your resume, your format impacts design. Some industries prefer set formats, so researching before you get started is essential. Applicants to traditional fields like banking or accounting should opt for a simple, classic resume design. However, if you’re applying for a position in a creative field like graphic design or advertising, the hiring manager may expect your resume’s design to show off your personal style.

No matter which industry you’re hoping to enter, our Resume Builder helps you find a professionally designed resume style that reflects your unique perspective and showcases your skills.Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you review sample resumes and make style decisions:

  1. Know the industry (and the company). Check out the company website and social media outlets to understand their values and style. For instance, a tech startup might welcome creative design choices, while an established computer company may not.
  2. Be cautious with color. You might hope to stand out from the pack by choosing a bold color, either for your resume background or the text itself. But it’s easy to go from creative to distracting, or worse, difficult to read. If you decide to use a color, it should be done thoughtfully, as an accent, not for giant swaths of your resume. Check out our examples here.
  3. Avoid images. It may be tempting to include a headshot or examples of your work, but images and graphs can interfere with an Application Tracking System’s (ATS) ability to read your resume. Many companies use ATS to weed out unqualified applicants, and their inability to process images may cause you to get tossed in the “not qualified” pile.

Here is an example of a poorly designed resume and one that is easy for both an ATS and recruiter to review:

Terry Hudson
terry Hudson

Resume Fonts, Sizes and Margins

Choosing the best font for your resume is one critical part of a successful resume design. Your font should be clear and appropriately sized. The hiring manager doesn’t want to squint to make out a resume with small or hard-to-read text. Here are a few tips to make sure your resume font and text choices won’t hurt your chances of landing the job:

1. Standard fonts only. You might love a romantic script or want to show your creativity with a font that looks like a Broadway marquee, but those choices can hurt you in the long run. Hiring managers are likely going through a stack of resumes, and complicated fonts are difficult to read. Choose neutral, well-known fonts such as:

  • Times New Roman
  • Arial
  • Georgia
  • Verdana
  • Century Gothic

2. Stick to the same font and width. Mixing fonts on your resume risks can make your text look messy and disorganized if not done with a studied eye. The same advice applies to the text width. A standardized resume is automatically a visually-pleasing resume.

3. Aim for 12-point font. If you’re trying to fit your resume onto one page, you may be tempted to use a smaller font. You might be able to go down to 10-point font for certain parts of your resume ― such as dates of employment or degree information ― but a larger font will make it easier to skim your resume without squinting.

4. Margins matter. Standard resume formatting advises a one-inch margin. Like font size, resume writers sometimes adjust margins to make their resumes look longer or shorter. You have a little wiggle room here, but don’t go more than ½ inch wider or narrower than a standard document.

Pick a Resume Format That Works Best for You

There are three standard resume formats to help you set up your resume in a logical way. They are chronological, functional and combination.

Darla Moody

1. Chronological resumes are the most popular format, where your experience is arranged in reverse chronological order. This is great for people who have built up a lot of experience and have no gaps in work history.

Hugh Diaz

2. Functional resumes put the emphasis on your skills. This style can be useful for career-changers, those who have experience in different fields, or those who have gaps in their work history.

Greogery

3. Combination resumes blend the two styles above, highlighting both your employment history and your skills.

Common Resume Design Mistakes

Avoid some of these common resume design mistakes and make a great first impression on hiring managers:

  1.  Forgetting your audience. You’re writing for both a machine and a human. Focus on simple designs and easy-to-digest layouts to maximize your impact.
  2. Choosing the wrong font or making a good font selection too small for people to easily read. If you make it difficult to scan your resume quickly, you’ll end up right at the bottom of the pile.
  3. Being inconsistent with fonts and design elements. If you go with 12-point Century Gothic for your body text, make sure all of your body text is 12-point Century Gothic – not a mix. And make sure your bullets all match too, both size and shape.
  4. Inserting images such as headshots. There is no need for a headshot unless it’s requested or part of the job (like an actor or model.) 
  5. Not reviewing other resume examples. There’s a lot to learn from reviewing other resumes, so spend some time surfing our examples for inspiration.

Use Our Professional Resume Designs

The best professional resumes display your skills and experience in a way that’s engaging and easy to understand. Ready to get started? Use our Resume Builder for access to many resume designs and templates.