Effective resume design tips, please.
January 25, 2005 12:19 PM   Subscribe

So I want to retool the look of my resume… [MI]

…and it seems like every resume I look at is at best a tweaked word template. I know that excessive graphics and other bells and whistles are generally frowned upon (unless of course you are a graphic designer or something). Considering how great this thread on business cards was, I thought MeFi-ites would have some great ideas on resume design – or how to make the look of your resume stand out while still being clear and presentable. Brownie points for links to examples, and thanks in advance.
posted by Heminator to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Obligatory: ResumeWiki.
posted by basicchannel at 12:39 PM on January 25, 2005

Use HTML/CSS instead. It's cross-platform compatible (depending on how you design it) and much, much more flexible (IMO) when it comes to layout/design.

Stay away from anything too flashy, but if you base your layout on usability guidelines etc. It can provide more interactivity than a simple Word formatted resume.
posted by purephase at 12:40 PM on January 25, 2005

When I was researching resume designs, I basically looked through books of example resumes and then promptly forgot everything I saw.

You want your resume to stand out (in a good way), and if you follow the same rules in the books that everyone else is following, you're just going to make a clone resume. Inject some of your personality into the document.

My advice (disclosure: as a graphic designer):

* Don't be afraid of white space. Get a book from a library on grid systems in design and change the layout of your resume to not look like everyone elses. If you have access to a page layout program (Quark, InDesign, etc.) use that instead of fiddling with Word.

* Don't use graphics or photographs. Try using 2 different (but only 2) fonts. Try a sans serif and serif combination (maybe sans serif for section headers.)

* Content is king. Keep it short, but not uninteresting. Above all, try to make sure your previous job descriptions are "results-oriented" and provide measurable results and examples whenever possible. (i.e., "...thereby increasing department efficiency by 32%.) Avoid cliches whenever possible ("a real team player"). Depending on the types of companies you're applying to, you can speak like a real human being, using only words you'd use in a conversation. I like to get a sense of the PERSON who wrote the resume, in addition to getting their facts.

* If you have something to say, I don't necessarily hold to the keep-it-to-1-page rule, but don't fill up space unnecessarily (this will depend a lot on the type of job you're applying for.)

* Don't forget a customized cover letter that shows real interest in the company. Make 2-3 references about the company in particular to show it's not a form letter.

* SPELL CHECK THAT MOFO (and get someone else to check it, too.) I toss resumes in the garbage if they have a single spelling mistake.
posted by robbie01 at 12:49 PM on January 25, 2005

Clean, elegant and simple beats fancy design. We read from left to right so put the important information such as job titles at the left and move less important information such as dates to the right (make sure there are no unexplained gaps in your dates). A simple indenting style works well.
posted by caddis at 1:31 PM on January 25, 2005

I approached the problem from a slightly different angle. I wanted to separate content and presentation (see the HTML/CSS reference above), so I went with the XML resume library.

Now I can generate my resume in a number of formats (RTF, Adobe, HTML, text) without changing the source XML file. And you could use this same approach to experiment with different layouts, as long as you're willing to muck around with the CSS (for the HTML version) and the XSL (for the general transformations). Since it's a standardized library, it's possible that people have already made customized stylesheets to create nifty output.

Warning: unless you're an XML nerd, then this approach fits into the "likely too much trouble" category.
posted by flipper at 2:08 PM on January 25, 2005

I'm just going to give flipper's response, but s/XML/LaTeX/g.

I've been maintaining my resume in LaTeX for several years -- I haven't been on the job market for that whole time! -- and twice since I have been on the market (for computer jobs), people have said things like "You had me at LaTeX." Computer Modern is a beautiful and distinctive font, and if you are looking for a computer job the Unix nerds will notice. In other fields, it still makes for a pretty resume with decent layout. I've been using the res.cls that's in CTAN, but it comes out looking a lot like Miklós Csürös' Latex Resume Output so he may have influenced me (it was a long time ago when I did the main work of it). Matthew M. Boedicker has some good tips and links to LaTeX resume classes etc.

But again, likely too much trouble.
posted by xueexueg at 8:45 PM on January 25, 2005

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