How to Make a Resume that Looks Good
Your professional résumé is your opportunity to sell yourself on paper. And even though the content is king, aesthetics plays a key part in the overall presentation of your qualifications as well.
Similar to how companies create marketing collateral to accentuate their corporate brand in the marketplace, strategically selecting specific fonts, styles, layout, content and design elements, you must visually accentuate your brand to remain competitive in the job market.
Not only should you create a compelling value-based résumé, but incorporating key visual components are important as well.
First impressions are lasting impressions and if your résumé looks rudimentary, you likely won’t be taken as seriously – which could mean a direct hit to your salary potential. Putting some thought and effort into creating a fine document that showcases your value while enticing the reader, your perceived value could immediately rise.
Not to mention, after viewing hundreds of resumes on a daily basis, recruiters are inundated with mediocre, lackluster documents. So, help them help you and offer an exciting document that is not only strong in content but aesthetically pleasing as well.
Here are a few tips to help you make your résumé visually pop.
Pick the right font
Fonts do matter. In fact, there was a recent article by The Huffington Post, where Times New Roman was coined, the sweatpants of fonts and Comic Sans was considered a no-go unless you were applying to clown school. Although comical, this shouldn’t be taken lightly. People are actually being overlooked for career opportunities because of bad font choices!
I personally love a light and a fresh page with clean lines, so sans serif fonts like Calibri Light, Arial, Candara, Gill Sans and Century Gothic are some of my faves.
For a more traditional look, I recommend a Cambria, Calisto, Garamond or Book Antiqua. Depending on the font style, your size should be somewhere between 10 and 12 points. (I teach more about this in my 12 Days of Resumes Video Training Series in my private FB group for professional women.)
Anyway, depending on the look and feel you’re going for, settle on a font that matches the tone of the résumé and complements your personal brand.
Create the perfect amount of white space
The fact is, no one is truly reading your résumé. In fact, studies show recruiters only take an average of 6 seconds to skim the information for content they are looking for. So, it is critical that your résumé is easy on the eyes and inviting to read.
Creating just the right amount of space in strategic locations on the page can help balance text from open space. If there isn’t enough white space, your document will look too dense and no one will even attempt to read it and your resume will sadly make a swift transition to the NO pile. On the other hand, if there is too much white space, your résumé looks rudimentary and scant.
So, keep margins between .7 and .5 on all sides and avoid placing headers in the left column (see screenshot below).
Another strategy is to be reasonable with the amount of space between sections. There is no need for 2 lines worth of space between your experience and education, it’s a waste of prime real estate. Make paragraphs no more than 3 to 5 lines and list no more than 3 to 5 bullets.
Also, a great rule of thumb is to have either 1 full page or 2 full pages. Having only a few lines on page 2 makes it seem incomplete and may come off as tacky.
Use a splash of color
Resumes, in general, tend to be boring and mundane. Don’t be afraid to add some minor elements of color to give recruiters a breath of fresh air, but be careful not to take it overboard.
Pick subtle shades of blue to play it safe or move into hues of purple, orange or even green. It gives life to the page and stimulates the eye. Here’s a quick example of a résumé I was able to create using green.
You can add color to your name, lines, bullets, headings and job titles, keywords. And use color to guide the eyes to some important selling points.
Add visual elements
A great way to make your résumé stand out and look visually appealing is the use of images. Charts, graphs or boxes can break up text and add a delightful element to your résumé. A chart or graph plays a double role as it also helps convey information.
In today’s information overload, our attention span is at an all-time low and pictures aid in taking in information. So, don’t be afraid to create some sort of visual aid to help paint the picture that tells your career story.
For more resume tips check out What To Include In A Resume - 16 Best Things.
Make sure items are consistent throughout. Bullets need to line up and margins should be even on all sides. So, make sure bullets are the same size, color, and shape. Make sure your fonts are consistent throughout.
Remember, it’s all about the presentation! Think about this, a meal that looks amazing will be more enticing than a sloppy plate. So, make sure your plate isn’t sloppy- make your résumé Look Good!
Also keep in mind that some of these elements (particularly the images) may not mesh well with online application systems, so I recommend creating a separate résumé without all the bells and whistles to upload online. But, if you’re doing a more direct self-marketing strategy, emailing a polished résumé directly to a recruiter or your future boss will take you far.