Layout and design
topics on this page
Why layout and design are important
It is estimated that people spend from 30 to 60 seconds reading each resume the first time. Your visual layout is the absolute first impression they get of you. If it is appealing, it will make reading it more interesting.
The greatest favor you can do your reader (and therefore yourself) is to be CONSISTENT.
- Use the same font and size for each and every heading
- Use the same font and font size for all the body copy
- Use bolding and italics sparingly, but consistently. If one job title is bold, make sure they all are bold
- Use the same amount of line space between headings and copy for each and every entry
- Use the same line spacing between headings and horizontal rule lines
- Use consistent tab sets and bullets for all bulletted copy
- Keep tab stops to a minimum and be consistent. Don't bounce all over the page. If you tab once for your education details, tab once for your experience details. Everything should line up with something else.
Consistency is like a guidebook for the reader. If they know each job title is going to be bolded, for instance, they can scan your page easier. These are visual cues to the reader.If they can't find what they are looking for quickly, most readers will dismiss your resume quickly and move on to the next.
Consistency also makes your resume more visually appealling, again making it more likely to get a first, second, third and more glances.
White space is any space that is not covered by text. White space is essential for visual appeal. Take a look at any print advertisement that you think is effective and catches your eye. Note the amount of space that isn't covered by anything. That white space was as carefully planned as the other design elements in the ad and it all works together to move your eye to what the ad is trying to sell or say.
Don't cover your page with text until it becomes a gray blur. A well spaced and layed out resume with lots of white space put on two pages will always be much easier to read than one with all that information crammed onto one page.
Balance is important for visual effectiveness. Make your white space consistent. Four inches of blank space on the bottom of the page, while the rest of your information is crammed together at the top, is not good use of white space.
To adjust your white space try these tips:
- Use one or two blank lines between sections to move your resume across the entire page.
- Adjust your margins.
- Adjust your line spacing (also called leading).
Wordprocessing software like MS Word have many lesser known features to help you adjust these kinds of things. Spend some time learning these features.
You can use tasteful fonts and carefully selected graphic elements to make your resume stand out. read more
Caution Number One:
There is no one right way to format and layout your resume.
What worked for your roommate probably will not work for you because your CONTENT is different. What you need to emphasize is different than what your roommate needs to emphasize. She may have more education information, you may have more work experience with more bulleted statements.
Caution Number Two:
Layout should always follow content.
Understanding what you want to say before you even begin thinking about how to lay it on a page will make your layout process easier and more effective. Do not force your information to follow a layout. You will be selling yourself, and your reader, short.
Caution Number Three:
Never use a template.
You want your resume to stand out, not get lost in a crowd. If you use a template it will look like everyone else's. In addition, templates are much harder to edit.
- DO NOT use templates: they are hard to format, they all look alike, and they do not send well electronically.
- Try using italics or bold for section headings or job titles, but be consistent throughout your resume and avoid over-formatting.
- Make sure there is a consistent amount of whitespace (space without text) on your resume; avoid large open spaces & too much clutter.
- Use the tabs function, not the space bar, to line things up perfectly.
- Decrease all margins.
- Play with line spacing
- Decrease space size of blank lines
Using a Second Page:
- Be sure approximately 2/3 of the second page will be utilized if you decide to use one.
- Use a page break to start the second page
- Name and page number do not have to be in the header, but should be present somewhere on the second page.
- Be sure to save your resume as you work on it to avoid frustration.
- Pay attention to where you are saving the file.
- Avoid color or use sparingly.
- Make a photocopy of resume (printed on your high quality paper) to see how it will look when an employer will copy it to pass around.
- Fill up the page: look at resume upside down to see how it fits the page.
Try hanging your resume upside-down on a wall, step back and see if it fills the page evenly. If not, you could benefit from re-thinking how you space and place your elements.
I'm in a creative field. Should my resume be different?
People in the arts, such as graphic design, advertising, and entertainment, have more license to be creative in their design. Use your resume design to demonstrate your skills as a designer, or your personality as an entertainer. However, make sure that it is tastefully done and adds value to your resume.