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resume
March 12, 2007 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Help me put together a sleek resume without using Microsoft Word.

I've gone the photoshop route before with fancy graphics and headers and it certainly helped my resume stand out. But in the end I think it just looked silly.

Now I'm trying to get that same level of differentiation, but without the flashiness. Does anyone have an ideas, resources, or templates for a great looking, stylish, but professional resume?

I'm not a programmer or a graphic designer. So anything in XML or Flash is probably out of the question. And I'd still like to get away from the drab Microsoft Word look that everyone else has if at all possible.

Maybe one of the Adobe Suite products? My only requirement is the ability to export the resume as a pdf file.
posted by willie11 to Technology (28 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do you have a Mac? I made my CV in Pages, which is part of the iWork suite, and I think it looks pretty slick.
posted by myeviltwin at 7:50 AM on March 12, 2007


My résumé is in InDesign. The key to doing it well in that type of program is restraint — you have eight million fonts and weird design tools available to you, but you don't need to use them. I use it for the finer level of control over spacing and such over Word, and for the better typography.
posted by raf at 7:55 AM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


(If you have access to them, though, InDesign or (less good) Illustrator are much better than Photoshop because they're not bitmap programs.)
posted by raf at 7:56 AM on March 12, 2007


Call me crazy, but I think most people care about what your resume actually says, not what it looks like.

From a certain standpoint, you do have to care about how it looks--but mostly to make it easily scannable, and to make all the bits that are cooler stand out.

Maybe you could make your resume stand out not by virtue of its design, but by virtue of a really well-thought objective. Make that slightly larger than the rest of the text and have it say something incredibly cool, like:

Objective: to put my superhuman abilities in human interaction towards forming intense, productive bonds between your organization and your clients

Also, if all you care about is making the resume look different than a Word clone, just use a font other than Arial or Times New Roman (tip: do NOT use Comic Sans!) and use about 3 subtle font sizes, again with the goal of highlighting the strong, interesting parts of your resume.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:03 AM on March 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Deathalicious makes an excellent point: the easiest way to make your résumé look better while leaving it in Word is to put it in a font that doesn't blow (ie, not Times New Roman). Jenson, Myriad, Caslon, some actually good font.
posted by raf at 8:14 AM on March 12, 2007


Um, since you know Photoshop how bout you just do it in Photoshop without the graphics and headers? RESIST. Just some classy text layout. Or just put it in Avant-Garde and call it a day.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:22 AM on March 12, 2007


If I found that someone had created their resume in photoshop I would, I'm afraid, consider them way too weird to hire. Use a proper WP (Word or some alternative)or at leasts something that's designed to handle text, concentrate on the content and find a simple, unobtrusive but attractive layout for it. A nice font and some simple headings should do the trick.
posted by Artw at 8:32 AM on March 12, 2007


http://www.resumeinabox.com/

http://www.southworth.com/page.php?id=137

http://jobsearch.about.com/od/sampleresumes/qt/microtemplate.htm


google search for "professional resume template microsoft word"

google search for "graphic design resume template". Try to copy any good looking designs in Word.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:47 AM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


This article looks very useful:
http://www.lifeclever.com/give-your-resume-a-face-lift/
posted by mildred-pitt at 8:55 AM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Give your resume a face lift -- worked for me.
posted by suasponte at 8:56 AM on March 12, 2007


... a minute too slow
posted by suasponte at 8:57 AM on March 12, 2007


You'll need a version of your resume in Word format anyway, since many, many recruitment systems won't read other formats, so it makes quite a bit of sense to do it in Word in the first place. Then you can generate your PDF, plain text, HTML, and RTF versions from that. You can make perfectly-acceptable looking resumes in Word.

Remember, your resume will be read primarily by machines. It will go into a database and be indexed by the words it contains. PDF is problematic for that because it can be hard for software to tell which strings of glyphs constitute words and sentences. If potential employers can't find you based on keywords in your resume, your odds of getting recruited go down dramatically. Only after your resume has been pulled up from the database will its appearance come into play.
posted by kindall at 9:05 AM on March 12, 2007


Avoid photoshop, please. It really isn't meant for long-form text (like your resume).
I second the idea of using a font that doesn't blow. Something clean and crisp is my preference. But, yeah, avoid TNR, Arial, Trebuchet, et.al.

And remember...white space is your friend. Correct use of white space can give any document a clean, professional feel.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:08 AM on March 12, 2007


I use Illustrator and I think I have a pretty good design. (I am a design student though) Photoshop tends not to do well with fonts.

Use a proper WP (Word or some alternative)or at leasts something that's designed to handle text, concentrate on the content and find a simple, unobtrusive but attractive layout for it. A nice font and some simple headings should do the trick.

Yeah, 'nice' resumes only stand out in that they dont look awful. They are just 'nice' Do you want to have a 'nice' resume?

The question to you is why and to what degree do you want your resume to stand out?

I can email you 2 of my favorite designs if you would like to give you an idea of something different.
posted by comatose at 9:24 AM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Unless you're a graphic designer, you should stick with something functional. Plain white paper, simple design that is easy to scan quickly. Something that copies well. I had to hire recently, and I found that resumes that looked crazy bothered me and struck me as immature.

What really caught my attention in a good way were well-written cover letters that were personable, grammatically correct, and written specifically to the job I was hiring for. Personally I don't mind humor or casual writing in a cover letter.

It's a good idea to list achievements or projects that you were a part of, or things that you did to make things better or more efficient for past employers.
posted by JamesToast at 9:34 AM on March 12, 2007


Unless you're a graphic designer, you should stick with something functional. Plain white paper, simple design that is easy to scan quickly. Something that copies well. I had to hire recently, and I found that resumes that looked crazy bothered me and struck me as immature.

Why do people associate graphic design with crazy? If the lay person sees graphic design and thinks 'crazy' then it probably isn't good design.
posted by comatose at 9:43 AM on March 12, 2007


Many good recommendations folks. Keep them coming...

Deathalicious, I absolutely agree about content being king when it comes to resumes. But that isn't what I asked about.

My work speaks for itself and is good enough to get through the first round if it was written on a napkin.

But my question was specifically about the style aspect of the resume. I'd like it to stand out without falling into what JamesToast describes.

Comatose comes closest to answering my question and, yes I'd love some recommendations and examples... especially examples.

I'm big on whitespace too Thorzdad.
posted by willie11 at 9:46 AM on March 12, 2007


comatose, you raise a good point. I guess it's more the case that people without graphic design experience try to 'dress up' their resume by making unorthodox design choices, which frequently comes across as crazy. They choose dark paper, or they use templates that would be better suited for a flyer, or they put an awkward looking picture of themselves in an awkward place on the page. And they think, "THAT should make it stand out!" And they're right, in a way.

I did say "Unless you're a graphic designer..." I guess what I mean is that if you know what you're doing, go for it. If you don't, it is likely that your choices will make you look crazy. And in my experience you can't really see your own bad design choices as bad.
posted by JamesToast at 11:45 AM on March 12, 2007


All the jobs I got in recent years came via agencies - they scan your resume and transfer it into their templates. The resume which is forwarded to potential employers bears no resemblence to your carefully drafted and crafted masterpiece. Unless you apply directly to an employer your efforts will be wasted...

If you apply directly to an employer your unique effort may well distinguish you but may also make them think that you are too unconventional/nonconformist to fit into their organisation...unless unconventional is essential in your line of work!
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:27 PM on March 12, 2007


Why don't you use Adobe InDesign? It's not terribly difficult to learn enough to pageset a snazzy-looking resumé in InDesign if you have some experience with other Adobe tools.

I did mine in Quark ages ago and continue to update it that way. Using a real pagesetting program to put together your resumé lets you create something much more polished-looking and distinct, and gives you a lot more control over layout and spacing.
posted by perissodactyl at 2:45 PM on March 12, 2007


JamesToast writes "Something that copies well."

This is a good point, aim for something that faxes well too. When I'm on a hiring committee HR fax us resumes for shortlisting because we aren't in the same building.
posted by Mitheral at 2:59 PM on March 12, 2007


kindall: You'll need a version of your resume in Word format anyway, since many, many recruitment systems won't read other formats, so it makes quite a bit of sense to do it in Word in the first place. Then you can generate your PDF, plain text, HTML, and RTF versions from that. You can make perfectly-acceptable looking resumes in Word.

It's just as easy to create something that looks perfectly-acceptable in InDesign and then downgrade to Word when needed.

I've been burned too many times trying to to keep font metrics, unicode glyphs, line breaks, page breaks, and formatting consistent between MSWord versions and platforms. And getting text out of a well-formatted PDF is no worse than getting text out of a well-formatted Word doc.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:28 PM on March 12, 2007


Once you compose your resume, upload it to Emurse. It's such a great website. You or potential employers can view it online and you can email to anyone as a PDF, DOC, JPEG, etc. You can also fax it to someone right from your computer.
posted by HotPatatta at 4:59 PM on March 12, 2007


Help me put together a sleek resume without using Microsoft Word.

A good looking resume won't help you much if you don't fit the profile. Since a lot of resumes are scanned for keywords it might make more sense to focus on this and on the content.
Most persons use Word. People with a scientific degree use Latex. Latex looks nice, you can find lots of templates on the web.

BTW, The time optimizing your resume is better spend in networking.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 5:58 PM on March 12, 2007


FWIW, I do mine in LaTeX with the currvita package and the Charter font.
posted by FlyingMonkey at 6:39 PM on March 12, 2007


I splurged and bought Helvetica Neue for the headers of my resume, and did it in Indesign. It absolutely stood out in a pile, and I made a little tiny icon of a piston in Illustrator to put beside my name at the top.
posted by wzcx at 9:48 PM on March 12, 2007


There's no point in using any fonts that don't come with Windows, such as Helvetica Neue, because 90% of the people who look at your resume will be looking at a Word version on their Windows PC, not a printout or a PDF. Your fancy fonts will come out plain and your layout will be wrecked.

getting text out of a well-formatted PDF is no worse than getting text out of a well-formatted Word doc.

Sure it is. If the employer's HR system supports Word documents but not PDF, then getting the text of your resume out of the Word document is easy but getting it out of a PDF is impossible. It's hard for a recipient to get much text out of a document that they have summarily deleted because it's not in a format they like.

I find it mystifying that so many people invent additional barriers between themselves and a job. What, isn't the job-hunting process enough of a challenge without limiting yourself to employers willing to look at the fancy PDF resume you made in InDesign?

Sure, you can do it in InDesign and then redo it in Word. Or you could just do it in Word. You shouldn't be getting too fancy with layout anyway—a table or two is about the most you need, and Word can handle that fine. Neither should you be worrying about exactly where page breaks fall; tell Word to keep the lines of your paragraphs together and make sure there's a couple lines of blank space at the end of each page so in case it expands, it'll still fit.
posted by kindall at 11:56 AM on March 14, 2007


As someone who *just* finished a successful job hunt, let me tell you that nobody, but *nobody* wanted anything from me other than a Word-formatted, scannable resume and an online portfolio of design work. Not a single one of the companies I interviewed with would have accepted a PDF of my resume.
posted by NatalieMac at 1:12 PM on March 16, 2007


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