Here’s What Your Resume Should Look Like [To Impress Employers]

Help your resume avoid the rubbish bin.


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What resume should look like
Irene McConnell
3 min read

June 26, 2020

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A quick web image search for the word “resume” reveals ample resume examples that are based on a ubiquitous design language, which has not seen much evolution since the 1990s.

I’m sure that you know what I’m talking about. It looks like this:
how should a resume look

Is this, however, what a resume should look like?

Well, no.

You don’t need to be a professional designer to notice a few glaring problems with this resume’s ability to get its message across, including:

  • Excess of text on the page.
  • Insufficient white space.
  • No sense of priority and logic.

A resume like this looks intimidating, and overwhelms the reader with all of its information, at once.

Some resume writers justify their preference for this archaic resume design by arguing that it reduces the risk of rejection by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) – which is a myth that I debunk in this article.

Your Resume Should NOT Look Like It Belongs In The 1990s.

The traditional resume design harks back to an era when the abundance of text on a page was considered to be a feature, not a flaw.

In the 1990s, people weren’t drowning in information as they are now. Consequently, they had the patience for cumbersome, intimidating, overloaded-with-text resumes.

All user interfaces, including those on the Internet, followed that trend.

how a resume should look

The concept of UX/UI (User Experience/User Interface) design wasn’t yet born, so as users, we didn’t know that we could expect a high level of usability from our interfaces.

We simply accepted that documents and computer applications were clunky.

Why Today You Need A Good-Looking Resume.

We take it for granted that we interact with the world through interfaces that are built on strong UX/UI principles.

Your phone, your computer and just about every webpage or app you use have faced an intense level of scrutiny from interface designers.

Your resume is also an interface. One that a recruiter will use to evaluate the strength of your brand.

Odds are, this recruiter will be in their late 20s or mid-30s.

(Related: How To Write A Resume That Impresses Recruiters).

It means that they’ll be a time-pressed Millennial who has never seen a 1990s version of the Internet, but has spent the last 10 years of their life skimming through web content at warp speed. They’ll be used to interfaces being intuitive and easy to internalise.

It’s also likely that the first time they’ll see your resume will be on their mobile device, while they’re driving to/from work, waiting for a client, etc.

If your resume looks dated, clunky or simply like “hard work”, they’ll be more likely to reject it.

(By the way, did you know that you can have a great-looking resume by hiring us to revamp it for you?)

Here’s What Your Resume Should Look Like.

Your resume needs to conform to contemporary Web design rules. It has to flow. Like this:

what should resume look like

Much like a well-optimised web page, it has to clearly communicate the priority of detail through smart, effective design.

(Related: Guide To Writing A Highly Professional Resume).

Most importantly, it has to pull a reader in – one bit of information at a time.

Don’t jeopardise your chances of getting noticed by making your resume look like it belongs to someone who is out of touch with the times. (By the way, for more help with your resume check out my library of resume writing guides here).

A Great-Looking Resume Is Just The Beginning.

An effective design simply gets you in the door; it takes away one of the key reasons why recruiters stop reading your resume.

Your next challenge is to include all of the essential elements on your resume, while removing any that may distract the recruiter.

I wish you all the best in your upcoming job search.

– Irene

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