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The Dos and Don'ts of Resume Design: HR-Approved Tips for Professional Resumes

Updated: Feb 12

After reviewing over 30,000 job applications, I learned that one simple factor virtually guarantees your resume more time in recruiters' hands. (And more time in recruiters' hands means more attention, better chances of landing interviews, and more job offers.) Guessing what that one thing is? It's the first thing that catches the eye: resume design.

Like most of my fellow recruiters, I'd receive an average of 250 resumes per job. The moment I opened a job application and noticed a well-designed, professional layout, my instant thought would be: Oh, a professional-looking resume? This candidate must have invested lots of time and effort into creating it! I need to review this application with extra care.

That's why putting effort into your resume design is essential. Good resume design not only catches the recruiter's eye but also helps you come across as a motivated, committed, and professional candidate—all within a split second.

Now, wondering how you can craft a resume that stands out and ensures interview invites come your way? Good news: all the answers are here. I put together an overview of why resume design matters, along with key dos and don'ts when crafting outstanding CV designs.

By the way, while you're at it, find out what else you can do to ensure your resume gets the attention it deserves:

Disclaimer: This article includes relevant affiliate links to services, resources, and tools I wholeheartedly recommend. If you buy something through these links, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your purchase helps me share more helpful content. Thanks if you choose to support me this way!


Real Benefits of a Polished and Professional Resume Design

Just like a stunning outfit can turn you into the star of the evening for all the right reasons, a visually appealing resume design can pull off the same trick for your job application.

You can think about it this way—your resume is the first thing employers get from you. And when it's well-crafted and polished, it's like suiting up your skills and experiences in their finest attire for the hiring world to see.

Simply put, good resume design elevates your chances of getting noticed.

A good resume design elevates your chances of getting noticed.

For starters, a clean and professional design signals that you're all about precision and attention to detail, which are highly valued qualities in any workplace.

Now, let's get into three more benefits a good resume design and layout can bring you.

Highlighting Key Information

Clear, concise formatting improves readability and directs the hiring manager's attention to the most important sections of your resume. Bullet points and font styles are crucial formatting elements that can help you effectively highlight your skills, experience, and qualifications.

Enhancing Readability

White space, or negative space, is the space between paragraphs and sections. It's one of the main characteristics of well-designed resumes. A clutter-free resume with well-proportioned spacing brings a sense of visual harmony and, most importantly, helps the recruiter seamlessly navigate your document.

Two resume templates next to each other on gray background showing the difference between a resume design with plenty of white space and a crammed resume design without enough white space.

Reflecting Your Personal Brand

A well-designed resume can also reflect your personal brand and convey your professional identity. The right fonts, colors, and overall style can help you align your resume design with your industry. This thoughtful approach shows that you have put effort into presenting yourself in a unique and memorable way.


The Dos for Resume Design

Finally, let's talk about the dos when it comes to resume design. These are your go-to moves.

#1 Do Choose a Clean and Professional Font

When it comes to font selection for your resume, simplicity is key. Opt for clean and professional fonts such as Arial, Calibri, or Helvetica. These fonts are easy to read and maintain a polished look. Avoid using decorative or overly stylized fonts that may distract the reader or make your resume appear unprofessional.

#2 Do Use Bullet Points to Highlight Key Information

Bullet points are a highly effective way to present information in a concise and organized way. Use bullet points to highlight your skills and achievements. This makes your resume easier to scan and helps the hiring manager quickly identify your essential qualifications.

Top view of a modern ATS friendly resume templates on beige desk. A cop of coffee sitting on the desk next to printed CV.

You're a step away from a professional-looking resume!

#3 Do Organize Sections with Clear Headings

Divide your resume into clear sections with appropriate headings. This makes it easier for the reader to navigate your resume and find the information they seek. Use titles such as "Personal Statement," "Work Experience," and "Education," to create a logical flow and structure.

#4 Do Use White Space for a Balanced Layout

Use white space to create a balanced, visually appealing, and easy-to-read layout. Avoid overcrowding your resume with excessive text or information. Give each section room to breathe, allowing the reader's eyes to focus on the important details.

#5 Include Contact Information Prominently

Ensure that your contact information, including your name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile, is prominently displayed at the top of your resume. This makes it easy for recruiters to contact you for potential opportunities. Consider using a slightly larger font or bold text for your contact details to make them stand out.

#6 Tailor the Design to Match the Industry

Take into consideration the industry you are applying to, as different sectors may have specific expectations when it comes to resume design. For example, a graphic designer may have more freedom to use a creative resume to showcase their creativity, while a corporate executive may require a more formal and classic resume design. So, research and understand the industry norms and adapt your resume design accordingly to cater to the specific needs of each job application.


The Don'ts for Resume Design

Where there are the right steps to take, there are also steps you'll want to avoid. So, let's explore some major "no-nos" in resume design that you should keep in mind.

#1 Don't Use Fancy or Hard-to-Read Fonts

I know, using fancy fonts may seem tempting to make your resume stand out. But it can backfire. Hiring managers prefer simple, clean, and professional fonts that are easy on the eyes.

Stick to popular and widely-used fonts like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman to ensure your resume is easily readable.

#2 Don't Overdo It with Bold or Italics

While formatting options like bold or italics can help draw attention to important information, it's crucial not to overdo it. Too much emphasis on every other word can make your resume look cluttered and unprofessional. (Remember, too much of a good thing is not a good thing.)

How to avoid it:

  • Reserve the use of bold or italics for headings, job titles, or key achievements to maintain a clean and balanced layout.

#3 Don't Clutter Your Resume with Too Much Information

Less is often more. Avoid the temptation to include every single detail about your professional history. A cluttered resume can overwhelm recruiters and make it difficult for them to find the relevant information they're looking for.

How to avoid it:

  • Focus on highlighting your most relevant skills, experiences, and achievements, keeping it concise and streamlined.

#4 Don't Forget to Review Your Resume

One of the most common resume mistakes is neglecting to review a resume and proofread it for errors. Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, as well as design and formatting inconsistencies can create a negative impression and signal a lack of attention to detail.

How to avoid it:

  • Before sending out your resume, thoroughly proofread it, or consider asking someone else to review it and point out any content or design oversights.

#5 Don't Use Unnecessary Graphics or Images

Graphics and images can help catch the eye of recruiters, but it's essential to use them sparingly. Overloading your resume with unnecessary visuals can clutter the layout and distract from the content.

How to avoid it:

  • Focus on using a sprinkle of professional color, relevant icons, or simple design elements that enhance the overall look without overwhelming the reader.


Bonus Tips for Professional Resume Design and Layout

Now that we've covered the essential dos and don'ts of resume design, here are some additional HR-approved tips to help you create a professional, eye-catching resume design and apply with confidence.

Keep the Resume Length Concise

Hiring managers and recruiters are typically busy and don't have the time to read through lengthy resumes. So, keep your resume concise and focused on the most relevant information.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Stick to a one or two-page resume.*

  • Prioritize showcasing your most recent and relevant work experiences.

  • Trim unnecessary details and avoid going into excessive detail on each position.

*Recent research shows recruiters have a preference for two-page resumes nowadays.

In fact, for managerial positions, they are 2.9 times more likely to contact a candidate who submits a two-page resume, and for entry-level positions, the likelihood increases by 1.4 times.

Use Consistent Formatting Throughout

Uniformity in formatting is crucial for creating a visually appealing resume. Consistent formatting helps maintain a professional look and ensures your resume is easy to follow.

Consider the following:

  • Use a consistent font type and size throughout your resume.

  • Maintain consistent spacing between sections and bullet points.

  • Pay attention to alignment and ensure that elements are correctly aligned.

Consider Using a Template for Guidance

For a seamless head start in your design, consider utilizing professional resume templates. These templates come with pre-designed layouts that you can easily adjust to suit your style. Think of them as your valuable toolkit, ensuring a polished and professional appearance for your resume without the hassle of creating one from scratch.

The best part? You can start browsing them right away. Explore ByRecruiters collection of HR-proof resume templates, all set for you to explore and choose the perfect fit.

Previews of five resume templates in cut out square images on a white background.

Explore resume templates loved by 8,000 professionals worldwide.

Here are a few reasons why using a template can be beneficial:

  • Templates ensure a visually appealing and well-organized layout.

  • They offer guidance on where to include different resume sections.

  • Templates simplify the design process, saving you significant time.

Seek Feedback from Others

Once you have finalized your resume layout, it's always a good idea to seek feedback from trusted individuals. This could be friends, family members, or professionals in your field. Getting different perspectives helps you identify any areas for improvement or potential issues you have missed.

Consider the following when seeking feedback:

  • Ask for input on the overall layout, readability, and visual appeal.

  • Seek feedback on the content, ensuring it effectively highlights your skills and experiences.

  • Request suggestions for any necessary revisions or improvements.

Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. If you shop through these links, I might earn a commission, making this site fully reader-supported. Big thanks for your support!


Key Takeaways

Creating your perfect resume design can be a lot of fun. Think of it as your opportunity to professionally style your application and make a lasting, positive impression on recruiters. And trust me, it works like a charm.

Here are key things to remember:

  • When working on your resume design, you want to pick a clean and professional font, use bullet points to keep things clear and ensure your design aligns with the industry you're applying for.

  • Steer clear of fancy fonts, going overboard with bold or italics, and piling on unnecessary graphics or images.

  • Consider using professional resume templates, as they provide a well-organized layout and can save you a lot of time. Plus, professionally crafted resume designs seriously up your game in catching recruiters' attention and landing that interview.

To help you out, I've created and curated a collection of 50+ professional resume templates that have been used and praised by over 8,000 professionals worldwide. Grab your new resume now and go after those amazing career opportunities with confidence.


What to do next?

  • A poorly written resume is costing you opportunities. Explore the best resume writing services and let the experts transform your resume into a powerful, job-landing tool.

  • Actively looking for a job? Your resume is not enough. Choose one of the best LinkedIn profile writing services and let professionals optimize your LinkedIn for future employment.

  • Pass on the wisdom—share this article with a friend, family member, or colleague who needs help with their resume. And don't forget to bookmark it to have quick access to the best resume metrics whenever you need them.

  • Time for an upgrade: Select your new resume from our collection of 50+ professional, HR-proof resume templates and create a job-winning resume today.

  • Seize control of your career with insider insights! Dive into a power-packed 60-minute 1:1 call with an ex Global Fortune 500 recruiter and leave no job search question unanswered. Book now!

Ana Colak Fustin, founder of Headshot of a smiling business woman.

Ana Colak-Fustin

Hi—I'm Ana! A recruiter, HR consultant, and founder of My career advice and job search tools have been featured in Yahoo News, The Muse, Jobscan, A Better HR Business, and other global media. Over 8,000 professionals have used my resume templates to land new jobs and power up their careers. Ready to join them? Your success story starts here.

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