Is your resume looking a little bland? Having trouble standing out when submitting job applications? Feeling like perhaps your resume is more like a beat up old wreck than a super shiny red sportscar? I hear this problem a lot and I see it even more often when assessing job applications. But never fear. In this post, I am sharing 9 different resume design tricks to help your resume stand out in a pile of boring black and white documents. I’ve got your back, my friend.
I bet you aren’t surprised that colour is at the top of my list, especially if you have been following along here for a while! I absolutely love using colour in my resume designs and as a recruiter, I get excited when I receive a resume that has incorporated colour into the design.
The trick to using colour in your resume design, is to use it sparingly for maximum impact. You should select one or two colours that are strong, professional, but show off your personality. I often use shades of blue or green, but I have created resumes in all colours – even pink and yellow! Although no colour is really “out of bounds”, you should give some thought to what is suitable for the industry you work in.
Using fonts is another easy way to infuse your personality into your resume design and to help your application stand out from the crowd. There are so many different fonts available that can create endless emotional responses from your audience.
To get started, I would suggest checking out daFont or FontSquirrel, which are both libraries of free fonts that you can download and use for personal projects. You can be a little brave when selecting a font for your name (your resume’s title) and possibly your section titles. The more “out-there” you are with your title font though, the more conservative you should be with your primary text font. For example, if you go for a free-flowing script font for your header, consider choosing a sans-serif font (one without the flicks and the ends of the letters) for your main text.
Overall, make sure that the fonts you choose are easy to read and lend themselves to being scanned quickly. If your font is difficult to read, recruiters simply won’t read your application.
Icons or symbols are not commonly used in resumes, but when used well they can look very effective. The greatest thing is that symbols are free and readily available in your word processor, whether you use Microsoft Word or Apple Pages. You can also access additional icons through places like Creative Market or Graphic Burger if you need something a little out of the ordinary.
So, where can you use these symbols and icons? The first place is in your contacts section. Rather than having titles like “phone number” or “address” consider using a symbol to represent these words – a telephone and an envelope are good choices. Another place where symbols can be used is as your bullet points. If your resume design is otherwise fairly simple, a fancy bullet point can make your document pop!
My final tip is to increase the size of your symbols so that they are slightly larger than your font. This makes them easier to decipher and means that they won’t blend into little dark squares if your resume is printed.
Containers can be used to create sections in your resume and can be one way that you can use colour. When I talk about containers, I mean any type of shape that you can use to hold text. For example, you might have a container for your professional profile, one for your key skills and one for your experience.
When creating your containers, think about the overall style of your resume. Does it make more sense to use rounded corners, sharp corners, dotted lines, double lines or some other form of embellishment? Use one of your accent colours to make your containers stand out!
Check out this post about how your resume design can help you get noticed!
Logos in your resume can be really powerful, especially if you have worked for really iconic brands that can be recognised by their logo alone. This will stand out in your resume and give a quick overview of the types of businesses that you have been employed by.
When designing your resume, consistency is very important, so if you are planning to use a logo for one of your employers, do the same for all of them. If you only include logos for a couple of your employers it will look messy. For this reason, if you have worked for a small business that doesn’t have a logo, this might not be a strategy for you.
If you do decide to go ahead and use logos in your resume, the best place is within your “experience” section. Keep them small, but large enough that they can be recognised. Whether you right or left align the logos is completely up to you, just remember that consistency is key!
Bullet points! Yes, it seems obvious, but many people aren’t yet on the bullet train (toot-toot!). Bullet pointed lists are visually appealing and break up large sections of text. By using bullet points, you can convey a large amount of information in short spurts and as well as looking good, it also makes it easier for recruiters to scan and absorb.
As I mentioned above, you can use symbols or icons to smarten up your bullet pointed lists, but don’t feel as though this is a must. There are usually a few bullet point options available in your word processor that you can select – just make sure you use the same point throughout your whole resume.
Before I move along, let me just make one final point (haha!). Your resume is not a shopping list, so it is very important that you do not use one or two word bullet points. Although you want to keep each idea succinct, you also want to provide enough information to ensure the idea is complete and can stand safely on its own.
If you aren’t using containers, lines can be another way to section off your document. You can use thicker lines that contain your headings (kinda like banners) or line breaks between sections of your resume. Either way, it is another good chance to use pops of colour.
If lines are the highlight of your design, then feel free to get creative. Once again, you can use dotted lines, double lines or even incorporate a mixture – as long as your design doesn’t become too complicated.
Negative space is the white space on the page that is not being filled in by your design elements. It is arguably one of the most important parts of your resume – the white space almost allows the design and content of your resume to breathe. When you use negative space well, you allow your resume design to pop off the page and you create an environment that allows your potential employer to scan the information on the page. Are you convinced yet?
I have left graphics until last, because although they can be used in your resume, you need to be extremely careful! Infographic resumes are becoming more and more popular, but in my opinion, are still only really useful in more creative fields, where your resume becomes an example of your ability to think creatively and deliver projects that require out of the box thinking.
If you are thinking about putting together an infographic resume, you might like to seek some inspiration first, from Pinterest or the infographic templates on Canva. If you haven’t used Canva before, you should sign up for a free account today. Whether you are creating an infographic or traditional resume, Canva has loads of free templates and is incredibly easy to use. I use it every day in my business and wouldn’t be without it!
What did you think of the 9 resume design tricks I included in this post? Have you used any of them in your resume? If you are still putting your resume together and need a little extra guidance, consider my e-course, Detox Your Resume – you can check out all the details here.