“I’ve sought help on making sure my résumé contains the right information – now I want to make it look visually appealing so it stands out in the sea of résumés. Do you have any tips?” – Tan from Muskegon, WI
Thirty seconds: that’s how long an employer will scan your résumé before determining whether you’re a viable candidate for the position you’re applying for. Incorporating creative and design elements into your résumé, when done correctly, can help you stand out among the stack of résumés.
First, you’ll want to evaluate whether a more creative résumé is right for the job to which you’re applying. An infographic-style résumé may work great for a marketing or technology position, but not be appropriate for other fields, such as health care or accounting. You may want to develop multiple versions of the same résumé and tailor the one you send based on the company and the specific position you’re pursuing.
You’ll also want to be sure that any styling allows your experience and skills to shine without overshadowing them. Start by developing a solid résumé that works well in any format, then choose a design that accentuates your strongest areas. Remember: even the most visually appealing résumé won’t land you the job if you can’t demonstrate you have the right experience for the position.
If you do decide a creative résumé is right for you, keep the following considerations in mind:
- Start small. You don’t need a degree in graphic design to give your résumé a polished look. Use a site like CV Maker to give your text-based résumé a makeover that looks sharp while still remaining appropriate for most employers.
- Go graphic with your info. Web developers are increasingly coming out with new tools that create infographic-driven résumés that pull information directly from your LinkedIn profile. Once you’ve made sure your profile is complete and up-to-date, connect your profile to a free site like Visualize.me, Kinzaa or Re.vu to create your visual résumé.
- Do it yourself. Anyone with access to Microsoft Word or a similar word processing program can try combinations of fonts and emphasis (such as bolding, italics, all caps, etc) to style a résumé. If you don’t have experience in this area, try finding an example online that you like and then recreating it yourself. Access to Adobe InDesign or Photoshop will increase your layout and design options.
- Enlist support. Professionals at job search centers, such as those operated by Goodwill, can provide support for creating a résumé and basic layout advice. If you have excess funds – and really feel the investment will pay off – you can procure the services of companies like Loft Résumés to create a visually appealing résumé on your behalf. For a flat fee, they’ll use your information to create a résumé on a template of your choice and allow two rounds of revisions before extra fees are incurred. Skip this step if you’re on a limited budget.
Lastly, before investing time in creating a visually appealing résumé, make sure it’s something the employer can accept. Some companies only accept résumés submitted electronically, meaning you’ll need to save most designed résumés as PDFs to preserve formatting. Other employers may have their own online forms or require a specific formatting so that their applicant tracking systems can process the information.