When you need a job, your resume must stand out from the crowd of competition so you can land interviews and secure work/roles. That doesn’t mean it should be flashy or fancy, but that it needs to look professional and cover information clearly. These five tips help you simplify your resume design work and make it easier to update in the future.
1. Research design expectations
Before you spend money on a professional resume designer, and before you print a bunch of paper copies of a formatted resume, take a little time to research what hiring managers look for when they hire for your industry, role, level of experience and education. For example, in some creative fields, you can design your resume as an infographic. In other fields, if you get too creative with the design and graphical elements, the recruiter or hiring manager will toss your file. Best word of advice here: It’s better to lean on the side of traditional, professional designs if you’re not sure. But if you’re itching to show off your creativity, you can create a web portfolio and give potential employers the link so they can see more or your design elements.
2. Download templates
When you get a good feel for what design elements fit your industry, you can search for resume templates, even download them directly into your word processing software. Even if you want your design to stand out, a template is a good starting point, and often free on the web (we even have a few resume templates you can use).
3. Customize to fit your personal brand
Think of your resume and other career materials as tools that deliver your personal brand. If you create visually appealing and consistent materials, you stand out as a thoughtful professional. Recruiters and hiring managers may even recognize your design when they see it.
4. Keep a version of your resume with just text and bullet points
I’ve started keeping a file with my main resume points with just text and some bullet points. No fancy formatting or different color schemes for the headings. Just a simple text version. If you get frustrated that your well-designed resume elements look terrible when you upload the file into an organization’s online application tool, you’ll especially find this advice useful. Instead of uploading and then trying to wade through gobs of text, you can just copy and paste the headings and main points directly into the tool.
5. Rinse and repeat over time to stay up-to-date
We all know that the best practice in resume work is to frequently update your projects, education, and contact information. Even if you don’t put in the effort right away to fit the new items into your current resume design, you should periodically (quarterly at least) open up the file and add a few comments as a starting point. When I wrap up a project or overcome a specific challenge at work, I just create a comment in my document to show how impacts to team members and customers, the type of skills or media I used, and other impacts I can think of. Then when it’s crunch time and I want to apply for new roles, I don’t have to try to remember all of those persuasive talking points or end up with generic statements on my resume.
What tips do you personally use to simplify your resume design process or to make it easier to update?