Resume design: 5 creative ways to improve yours

Resume design: 5 creative ways to improve yours

Does your font scream outdated? Have you considered using an infographic? Read on for expert resume design tips

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IT leaders know how little time a hiring manager has to spend skimming CVs when filling a role. The same rule of thumb applies to your own resume. “Let’s face it, your resume is going to get no more than about 30 seconds of the reviewer’s time on the initial pass,” says Stephen Van Vreede, a resume writer and career adviser for IT executives, “so make it count. Ensure that they read the information on your resume that matters most for the role in question.”

That means IT leaders should not only carefully consider the information they include in their resume but also how they deliver that information. That’s where design comes in. Smart use of options like color, typeface, shading, or even infographics can catch the attention of a resume reader and get them to engage longer with the document.

[ Need updated advice on resume do’s and don’ts? Read also: Job hunt: 10 common resume questions, answered. ]

So you’re not an artist? No problem. The Enterprisers Project talked to some IT resume and career experts about some simple but effectual design tips to help your resume stand out in the stack.

1. Inject some color

One measured way to add some color to a resume is with borders or shading. “IT leaders and people hiring IT leaders do not like things to be really different, typically, but using subtle borders and shading functions for color that can help move the eye through the document more easily is recommended,” says Lisa Rangel, founder of resume writing and job search consultancy Chameleon Resumes. “A subtle use of color can make one’s resume pop alongside others.”

IT leaders might even consider using a colored font in moderation. “Evidence suggests that although executives don’t always like resumes with color, they actually spend about twice as long reviewing resumes that use color professionally,” Van Vreede says. “The key here is to be strategic and consistent about when and where the colored font is used. I suggest sticking with blue.”

2. Find a new font

Sure, you probably know to avoid the aptly named Comic Sans, but your CV can also get lost in a sea of Times New Roman. “Make your resume visually distinctive by avoiding overused fonts,” says Charlotte Weeks, career coach and past president of The National Resume Writers’ Association. “Some great alternatives are Tahoma and Verdana.”

3. Be bold

Wanda Kiser, president and CEO of Elite Resume Writing, advises her clients to include a branding statement near the top of their resume that defines their unique value and signature strengths. Van Vreede suggests using bold fonts to highlight key points in the resume that define that brand and help them jump out. Another option is to embolden keywords or core competencies in a list of accomplishments, says Kiser.

4. Chart your wins

The use of an infographic or two will grab attention – and more importantly, communicate the business value IT leaders can deliver. “Try the use of a chart or graph to depict a financial win – the implementation of an application that saved money or increased productivity, for example – to convey a subliminal impression of being an overall business leader and not just an IT person,” suggests Rangel.

5. But try to stick to two pages

What about the bottom-line design question: How many pages should you use? 

“You only have a minute – or sometimes just a few seconds – to stand apart from the competition,” says Kelly Doyle, managing director at Heller Search Associates, a recruiting firm specializing in CIOs, CTOs, CISOs, and other senior technology executives. “So keep it easy to read and to the point.”

For those with less than a decade of experience, a one-page resume will probably work. Three pages is the absolute max. For most IT leaders, a two-pager equals the sweet spot, says Rangel.

[ Arm yourself for IT job interviews with winning tactics and relevant data. Get the free eBook: IT job searching in 2019: A practical guide. ]

2 comments

6. Never lie in your resume.

6. Never lie in your resume.

And, of course, someone shows

And, of course, someone shows up in the comments section trying to sell their "resume rewriting" services, like vultures descending on a fresh carcass.

How is it that you are supposed to weed out the 1% of legitimate resume writing services that might actually be competent from the remaining 99% that are scammers looking for a handout?

Stephanie Overby is an award-winning reporter and editor with more than twenty years of professional journalism experience. For the last decade, her work has focused on the intersection of business and technology. She lives in Boston, Mass.

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