The time has come and you’re looking for a job. Maybe it’s been years since you’ve updated your resume, or maybe you’re creating one for the first time. In any event, it’s time to dust the old one off and jazz it up a little.
Of course, the content of your resume is what will land you the job. But how will someone decide to pay attention to yours in a stack of tons of other black and white resumes? Reading through a stack of resumes is not like reading through the latest thriller novel, and there’s not much you can do about that. However, designing your resume in a clear, innovative and creative way will help you stand out from the crowd and get you noticed.
In my previous job searches for both internships and full-time jobs, one common thing I heard in interviews was how creative and unique my resume was. If that’s something I heard time and time again, it wasn’t just small talk – my resume really did pop out from the boring ones! Click here to sneak a peek at my resume design. I had the tools available to come up with my own design, but I created this one on Canva. Canva, as you’ll hear me continue to rave about, has some beautiful, free resume templates. You can customize these with your own logo, colors and layouts, but they provide a great base. Below I’ll be talking about some things to consider when you’re designing your resume and highlight a few layouts I love.
Create a Flow
On what you might call a “standard” resume, it basically reads like a list. There’s no focal point and nowhere that draws your eye. When thinking about how you’re going to layout your resume, think about the eye flow you’ll create. What are the most important things you want the reader to notice? How can you best tell the story about who you are? Lead the reader through this story in a systematic way.
Start at the top with the obvious: your name and contact information. This is your opportunity to create your personal brand and add some flair. Do you have a personal logo? Great! Use it here. Make sure your name and contact information stands out and sets the tone.
Next, create a section that highlights your key strengths. Maybe you’ve won some noteworthy awards you’d like to call out, or even just share a few words that describe yourself. This section serves as a snapshot of what you’re all about. Include some high-level attributes that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Finally, the meat of the resume: your education and relevant career experience. This is what the reader came for, so make it easy and simple to read through. Write clearly and concisely and organize each job in the same manner. A good way to do this is to lay it out like this:
Title | Company
Description of duties
Create a hierarchy in each section that carries on throughout. If the reader is looking for the name of the company you worked for, it should be located in the same spot for each line item.
Choosing Colors and Fonts
Now that you’ve organized your resume in a way that flows, it’s time to get to the exciting part: the design! This is what will make your resume jump out of a stack of boring, generic ones. Highlight your personal brand through use of colors and typography to create the tone you want to set.
Read about the psychology of color here, and choose colors that represent your personality. Are you a bubbly, extroverted person? Reds and oranges are a great place to start. Maybe you’ll choose a blue or purple if you’re calm and even-keeled. Whatever colors you choose, remember the importance of white space. Don’t let your text get lost in loud backgrounds with hard-to-read colors. Using color as an accent piece is a great way to create contrast and a unique look. Try putting your name and address in a colored block or making the title of each job you had the same color.
An equally exciting part of designing your resume is choosing the fonts to use. Fonts are expressive just as colors are. If you’d like to learn more about fonts, click here to read my overview of typography. Since the content of your resume is what will get you hired, it’s imperative that it’s easy to read. Use fun, bold fonts for your name and headers, but stick to easy-to-read fonts for the body copy. A simple serif or sans-serif font will do for the body copy, such as Helvetica or Garamond. Keep in mind that serif fonts are easier to read in print, while sans-serif fonts are easier to read digitally.
Last, but not least…
Spell check more times than you think is necessary. A surefire way to get your resume thrown out is to include spelling errors. Make sure you’ve read it forwards and backwards, and have a friend read it, too. Sometimes we look at copy for too long and miss a lot of grammar and spelling errors, so getting a new set of eyes on it is important.
Job searching can be exhausting, but don’t let the hunt get you down if you have more interviews than you’d like. Keep applying, keep getting yourself out there and keep setting goals. Read about setting measurable goals that you’ll actually achieve here!