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How the design of your resume can score you that job

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. First off, everything I say is of course my opinion, but a good one I believe after working in this industry for many years. I also apologize for my writing skills. If I had to write my way into dinner I would end up hungry for many many days.

This post is geared not only toward the creative industry but to anybody with a resume. In fact this probably has helped more non creative people get a job, for the simple fact that many designers get their jobs based on a portfolio, and hardly ever a resume. I rarely ever base my decision for hiring a designer based on their resume. The portfolio is what matters most, after that the resume just helps me to see if they are Jr. or Sr, their previous employers and maybe their interests, which do mean something for a designer. But for those in the non creative realm, a resume is your life line.

There have been many lists and websites created to assist you in creating a resume. A recent list that I found interesting can be found here.
How To Make An Impression w/ Your Resume in 30 Seconds
These are good things to adhere to as far as “CONTENT” goes.

Other websites then proceed to show how to layout your resume. Here is an example.

But even these so called helpful templates have many flaws in them. This post will show you how to make your resume stand out by the design alone.

First off the one thing I want to let you know is by design, I am mainly referring to the “Layout” of a resume. Many designers try to stand out by creating a resume that has pictures, colors, logos and such. Many other people try to use Color Paper, fancy stupid fonts and more. I find these things more distracting than helpful. Some resumes that are designed with colors and graphics are nice and show a glimpse into an illustrators personality, etc. But if you do design your resume in this manner you better be damn sure it is really really good and have a reason behind it. AKA. Maybe an illustrators resume is all drawn. But it still better be awesome or it will come across cheesy. They also can be a big clue into how amateurish you are. Designing a resume in this manner is usually seen in younger people straight out of college.

Now, how can a layout help you stand out? How can the layout I am about to show you help you stand out?

Well like I said before, the resume templates often are the same style… 1 page as most people suggest … everything separated by a line or box, and above all, these layouts make it very hard to fit your information onto 1 page.

(A couple bland, over used & not so great resume layout examples)

I agree when people say, keep your resume on 1 page. I believe the only time this does not apply is if you are a big time CEO type boss with many years of experience or something out of the ordinary and need to almost make your resume, an essay. But for the majority of us, 1 page is ideal.

When I started out in this industry I had a resume like the one above. I found it very hard to fit everything on one page and I also hated the fact that my resume looked like everyone else’s. I then went down the road of designing a resume using colors and logos, the works! I took a step back and hated what I just did. It was over kill. I then spent the next few days trying to figure out how to make a resume work without making it a gimmick and staying away from the failed attempts I see on every resume template site out there.

One morning reading the local paper, I came upon and age old solution. The reason a newspaper has many columns is to break up the information for easy reading, pleasing to the eye and the ability to fit many different stories onto one page.

There was my answer. I then set out designing this template.


Click here to download the PDF Version

I then applied the same logic to this design layout. I ordered things by importance to the reader. I laid everything out in a way that will not only make it incredibly easy for the end user to read, but in one fell swoop made it easy to fit all the information you need on 1 page, without making it seem like a huge wall of text.

I then set out to help my non designer friends graduating from college. They adapted this layout for their “resume” and “resume classes” a college student takes their senior year. The first thing their teachers said was pretty much, this is stupid and doesn’t look like a resume. I disagreed. It is common knowledge that many professors are way out of touch with the real world. My friends believed me and decided to use the new layout.
So off my friends went submitting their new resumes to companies. Everyone of them got a call back to many interviews. During the interview every single one of the bosses said a big reason they were called back was how the resume caught their eye in a good way, a professional way.

The bosses then went on to let every one of them know how the loved the layout of the resume and how easy it was to read it. They even said that it didn’t look cluttered. Seeing a trend here? Did I sneak ahead and fill these bosses ears with this info? No, when you design an interface or layout in a very usable way, people will notice. They might not realize why it is easier and better, but they will notice. An example is the first time we used the Scroll Wheel on the ipod.

Here is a quick quote from one person who used this layout to illustrate my point.

“I followed your advice about resume layout. My CV initially looked like one of the word templates (without the boxes, but everything left-flush). My best friend (Mac tech support) and my aunt (Human Resources) help me adjust the contents of the resume so that it would best showcase my graphic art experience in my previous employment. I then used InDesign to recreate your layout and to plug in my data.

I sent this resume to my best friend at her office. She had told a coworker that a friend was looking for graphic arts work, so the coworker asked for a copy of my resume. She called me later to say that her coworker hand-carried my resume into her boss‘s office. The supervisor also mentioned that it looked very impressive.

If this lands me a job, and they like my portfolio pieces, then I thank you in advance. I will give you credit for the inspiration if anyone asks.”

Well, there really is not much more I can say about this topic other than, buy using this layout or one similar, using the grid system and a newspaper type layout, you will probably have the edge on other the applicants without having to dip to the lows of using Bright Yellow paper or Fancy Fonts, colors and logos. I really encourage you to try this resume out and see what employers say.

If you are not sure how to create a resume like this, I would consider using a program such as InDesign, Illustrator, Quark, etc., a page layout program. You can make this with word, but it is much harder to accomplish. Learning a page layout program can also really help you with your computer skills down the road.

I have also provided an Indesign template for you to get started :) resumetemplate.indd

Try and use a simple smaller font. Helvetica, Arial, Arial Narrow. Or try this nice free font LACUNA http://www.glashaus-design.com/site/glashaus.html found on this site. It is a bit narrower and will help with your formatting. Also this font might work nicely too. http://typo3.org/teams/design/style…the-typo3-font/

Another thing you might not notice is that all my headers are lined up horizontally with another header. This really really helps with organization and cleanliness. Really try and keep your resume’s content buckets and headers like this.

Hope this helps, it is not by any means 100% science but something I believe will help tremendously.

Good luck landing that job.

This entry was written by Tofslie, posted on March 10, 2008 at 9:53 pm, filed under Blog News. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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