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Resume Design: HR-Approved Tips on Designing a Resume That Will Set You Apart

Design matters. Whether we like it or not, we make instant impressions based on how things look. And we do it on a subconscious level within a split second. To be precise, a 1/20 of a second, as this Google research suggests.


But it doesn't stop there. We go a step further by associating good design with high quality, which significantly influences our decision-making processes. (Raise your hand if you've ever purchased a product just because its packaging was sooo pretty. *raises hand*) The same applies to your resume. A resume design is the first factor differentiating you from countless applicants with identical skill sets. It serves as your initial introduction to a potential employer, often determining whether your application moves forward or gets lost in the shuffle.


And the harsh truth is that all of your relevant experience and qualifications can go to waste (*quite literally*) if your resume design fails to capture recruiters' attention right from the start.

So, how can you ensure your resume design grabs attention without overdoing it?

With 9 years in HR under my belt — juggling roles as a recruiter and career coach — I've reviewed over 30,000 job applications. I also created functional resume templates in line with resume design best practices. Now, I'm sharing key resume design tips with you.


By the way, if you want to perfect your resume, you should also check these blog posts:


Alright, let's get into resume design tips and tricks.


 

Why Resume Design Matters


A well-organized, visually appealing resume not only grabs attention but also communicates professionalism, attention to detail, and a genuine commitment to presenting your qualifications effectively. Simply put, a professionally designed resume shows that you've *actually* put some effort into your job application, which wins you instant points with recruiters and hiring managers.


Thanks to that positive first impression, they'll take more time to review your job application, which in turn increases your chances of landing an interview.


Here's a simplified breakdown:


GOOD RESUME DESIGN

MORE ATTENTION

BETTER CHANCES OF LANDING INTERVIEWS


So, when crafting your resume, remember it's not just about listing your skills and experiences. It's about presenting your expertise in a way that captivates and convinces the reader that you're the right fit for the job.


Top view of printed resumes on a beige background. Brown-framed glasses sitting on top of resumes.

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




 

5 Key Principles of Resume Design

Investing time in refining your resume's design and layout can pay significant dividends in your job search. After all, in a world where first impressions happen in the blink of an eye, a visually appealing resume can make all the difference in your quest for career success.


Here are five fundamental principles of resume design to keep in mind:

#1 Keep it simple

Regarding resume design, in most industries, less is more. A clean, simple, and minimalist resume helps emphasize the vital information and is easier to read. The trick? Stick to a simple color scheme and use an easy-to-read font.

#2 Use white space

White space, or the empty space around text and images, can help make your resume more visually appealing and easier to read. Use white space to separate sections and make important information stand out.


Comparison of two resumes: Left demonstrates effective white space usage with a green checkmark, while the right shows poor white space usage with a red X.

Example of good use of white space vs. bad use of white space.

#3 Highlight important information

Use bold or italicized text to highlight important information such as your name, job titles, and critical skills. This can help draw attention to these important details and make your resume more memorable.

#4 Use bullet points

Using bullet points to list your work experience, skills, and achievements can help organize your information and make it easier to read. Use short, concise bullet points and avoid long paragraphs of text.


#5 Make it scannable

I can't stress this enough: Good resume design is an easy-to-scan design. Employers receive hundreds of resumes for each job posting. So, making your resume easy to scan is crucial. Use clear headings, bullet points, and short paragraphs to break up the text and make it easier to read quickly.



Now that you're familiar with these key principles, it's time to dive deeper into the specifics, including tips for your resume's layout and other crucial elements like selecting the best fonts and colors to increase your chances of securing your next job.


 

Resume Design Tips For Eye-Catching Resume Layout

Newsflash: Resumes don't get read. Instead, recruiters and HR managers typically skim through applications. The simpler your resume is for them to navigate, the better for you. A clean and well-structured layout plays a significant role in achieving this.


Let's look at some of the best ways to create a resume layout that simplifies skimming for recruiters and, ultimately, benefits you:


Choose the right resume design format

The first step in creating a well-designed resume is to choose the right format.


There are three main types of resume format: chronological, functional, and combination. Each structure serves a different purpose, so choosing the one that best fits your skills and experience is crucial.

  • Chronological resume: The best choice for job seekers with a solid work history. It highlights your work experience in reverse chronological order.

  • Functional resume: This format is ideal if your work history has gaps. It focuses on your skills and achievements rather than your work experience.

  • Hybrid resume: As its name suggests, it combines the best of both worlds, highlighting your skills and work experience in a unique format.

Want to find out which resume format is the best for you? Head to this guide on resume formats.



Organize your content

Once you've chosen the proper format, it's time to organize your content. You can choose between a one- or two-column resume layout.


But remember: your resume should be easy to skim and read. So, make sure you outline your content in a logical and clear manner.


For instance, you can start with a personal statement aka career summary, followed by your work experience, education, and other relevant information.


Add visual elements

Finally, add some visual elements to your resume to make it stand out. This could include a pop of color, a creative border, icons, or even a small headshot—if that's appropriate for the market and industry you're targeting. Just make sure your visual elements are professional and don't distract from the content of your resume.


 

5 Crucial Design Elements to Consider

Certain design elements carry the weight of making a strong impression. When used skillfully, they have the potential to positively shape how your resume is viewed, helping you stand out among your fellow job seekers.


These are 5 resume design elements you should pay extra attention to:


Font


Choosing the right font is vital. Opt for simple, easy-to-read fonts like Calibri, Helvetica, Constantia, or Times New Roman. Avoid using decorative fonts or fonts that are difficult to read.

Color


Adding color to your resume can make it stand out and leave a lasting impression. However, use this advice strategically. Stick to a maximum of two colors and ensure they complement each other. It's also a good practice to use color to highlight important information, such as your name or section headings.


Professional resume template on a gray background.

Example of a resume with color.

Typography


Typography refers to the style and appearance of the text on your resume. Use it to create a hierarchy and draw attention to important information. For example, use bold or italicized text for section headings or job titles.


White Space


White space on a resume is the blank area around the words. It gives your resume some breathing room and makes it easier to read by not crowding everything together. Achieve a balanced layout by evenly distributing content and using white space effectively.

Consistency


Consistency is the key element. Without consistency in your resume design, even the best fonts and colors can look messy and disorganized. So, ensure that your design elements—font, color, and layout—are uniform throughout your resume. This will make your resume look polished and professional.

 

Bonus Tips: Dos and Don'ts of Resume Design


Now that you've got the basics, I've put together the most important dos and don'ts of resume design to boost your job application further.


Take notes.


Do: Keep it simple


Create a simple, clean design with plenty of white space. Use a legible font and keep the formatting consistent throughout the document. This will make it easier for recruiters to read and understand your resume.

Don't: Use too many colors or fonts


While a pop of color can add visual interest to your resume, be careful not to go overboard.


My advice? Choose one or two colors and use them sparingly. Limit yourself to one or two fonts. Too many colors or fonts can make your resume look cluttered and unprofessional.

Do: Tailor your resume design to your industry


Tailor your design choices to your industry and the specific job you're applying for. Creative fields may allow for more artistic design elements, while conservative industries may require a more traditional approach. So, if you're applying for a creative job, showcase your personality and design skills. On the other hand, if you're applying for a job in industries such as banking, legal, or finance, opt for a more traditional, classic resume.

Don't: Overcrowd your resume


Keep this in mind—when it comes to resumes, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Adding icons to your contact details? Good idea. Adding icons all over your resume? Not so much. So, avoid excessive use of any graphic elements, including bold or italic text, fancy fonts, and intricate graphics that can distract from your content.

Do: Keep the focus on content


Following the previous point, your resume design should enhance, not overshadow, the content. The most vital aspect is the information you provide about your qualifications, achievements, and skills. So, ensure that your resume design doesn't steal the spotlight from this critical content.

Don't: Use excessive capitalization or bold text


Reserve capital letters and bold text for section headings or key points. Overusing them can dilute their impact and make your resume look cluttered.


 

Key Takeaways


A resume design can help you make a lasting impression on recruiters and elevate your chances of getting a job. Here are key things to bear in mind when designing your resume:

  • Focus on simplicity to ensure your resume is easy to read and understand.

  • Use easily readable fonts and professional colors throughout your resume.

  • Keep formatting consistent for headings, subheadings, bullet points, and text. This uniformity gives your resume a polished appearance.

  • Avoid excessive graphics or distractions and maintain a logical flow of information.

Want to have a professionally designed resume without the hassle of creating it from scratch?

Find your perfect resume template here.


 

Ana Colak Fustin, founder of ByRecruiters. Headshot of smiling business woman in white shirt.

Ana Colak-Fustin


Hi—I'm Ana! A recruiter, HR consultant, and founder of ByRecruiters.com. 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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