Resume design: How to Make a Good First Impression

Jelena Lukic

Published 4th December , 2020

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When recruiters and hiring managers go through a resume, they are looking at a representation of the candidate. That is why you should take the time and make your own cv that will represent the best version of you. This is always applicable to the contents of the resume. Thus, everything you decide to include in your biography, as well as the way you write about yourself should be carefully crafted. However, there is another element many people overlook – the design of the document itself. For this reason, I Love My CV is here to help you with resume design.

Organize the content thoughtfully

Everybody knows a resume is an opportunity to showcase your education, skills, achievements, and show you are the perfect candidate. This may tempt you to be as thorough and detailed as possible. In contrast, recruiters take very little time to go through a large number of resumes. This means you should make yours as convenient to read as possible. Thus, your resume should be condensed to two pages at most.

In other words, you will have to make each word matter and think it through. Don’t think of a resume as a life story, but as a way to get your foot through the door. Thus, it needs to be attention-grabbing above all to secure you the first interview.

Here is how you can use text organization and formatting to do just that.

Illustration of a resume and a pencil beside it.
The visual organization of the text can do wonders!

Resume design: Formatting the content

Let’s put ourselves into the shoes of a recruiter for a second. Your task is to look through hundreds of resumes and find candidates to invite to for an interview. Would you be thrilled to read through walls upon walls of text? Of course not! Hence, you should make sure the way your cv is organized draws the eye. People are more likely to engage with content that is divided in some way. Just look at the text you are reading right now! A text made out of smaller components is easier to go through and even skim.

Breaking up the content into sections and giving each a headline is a great way to start. The components we suggest including are

  • Header with all your information
  • Introduction
  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Skills
  • Certifications

and optionally:

  • Resume headline
  • Languages
  • Reference list
  • Volunteer work
  • Personal interests or Hobbies

Using bullet points is a great way to break up the resume and make it more dynamic and engaging to read. Additionally, it shows your organizational skills (when you take the time to format each point the same way).

Dividing the content of your resume into columns is another great option to make it easier to read. Additionally, this will help you stand out without being too obvious. Of course, you will have to know how long your resume is to be able to place and format the columns themselves.

Pay attention to the visual component

Humans are highly visual beings and their eyes gets drawn by visual stimuli. This means including a visual component into your resume is a great way to attract the attention of the recruiter. Depending on your industry and the position itself, you will have to assess if you want to make the visual component just an extra element, or if it should be the star of the show. When it comes to the creative field, the latter is an obvious choice. A strong creative spirit and artistic capabilities can be a great asset throughout your resume. This is a great way to give the recruiters an incentive to look further into your application. In other words, a resume in the creative field can be as good as a mini portfolio and serve as a chance to showcase your biggest strengths. On the other hand, the degree importance of the visual elements varies greatly in other professions and industries.

Multiple designs of a logo.
Think about what you want to convey through visual cues.

Resume design: Header

If you aren’t in the creative field, but still want to illustrate your resume in some way, the header is a great place to do so. Think of the header as the book cover, and the rest of your resume as the chapters. The cover tells you the author’s and the book’s name, and gives you written and visual information about the book. This is a great opportunity to convey information about yourself without using words.

There are many ways to design and embellish your header. Using small illustrations for different information is a great option for professionals in fields that don’t allow much creative freedom. The illustrations can be bigger and more prominent if you are applying for a creative job.

Including a photo of yourself in the header can be a good move as well. However, make sure to weigh the positive and negative aspects of using a resume picture beforehand.

A smiling man in a white shirt.
A photo can help you stand out!

Utilizing negative space can be a great way to make reading your resume an easy and pleasant experience, with the eye naturally jumping from one section to the next. Hence, this is a great option if you want to ”trick” the recruiter to give your resume more than just a casual glance.

Resume colors

Adding a pop of color is a simple and effective way of drawing the eye. This is an easy option to showcase the more important parts of your resume, as well as make it stand out from the competition. Generally, using colors in a CV used to be frowned upon. Moreover, it still is in more business oriented fields. In contrast, when it comes to jobs where creativity is one of the key components, using color has become the norm.

There are many options and color combinations to choose from. The first option is to add pops of color to an otherwise black and white document to emphasize the important parts. The color should be easy on the eye and preferably cool-toned, such as grey, green or blue. This minimalist design can give you an advantage even in the more ”serious” fields.

Another option is to go bold, and include varying shades of red. You should make sure not to overdo this, because red generally signals elements of great importance.

A man giving out his business card.
The design of your resume should reflect your brand as well as yourself.

Writing a resume is a stressful endeavor in and of itself. Now that you have to think of and commit to a color scheme for your resume design, it can become truly overwhelming. Using a cv maker that offers ready-made templates with established color stories can make this part of the process less time consuming and difficult.

To conclude, we would like to recommend showing your resume to someone whose opinion you appreciate and ask them to be honest about it. It is truly important to step away from the finished product and review it like you are seeing it for the first time. At the end of the day, that is what the recruiters will be doing.


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