Jobseekers – quite rightly – spend a great deal of their time thinking about just how to write their resume in order for it to best represent themselves and their skills. The one thing they may often not pay enough attention to is the way their resume looks when printed to be mailed and handed out.
The Importance of Resume Design Explained
In an ideal world perhaps resume design and layout would not matter. All that a hiring manager would concentrate on would be the content, rather than the appearance, of a candidate’s resume. In the real world however ,that is far from the case.
On average, your resume has five to eight seconds (literally) to convince a hiring manager that it is worth reading in full. If that resume is hard to read or particularly unattractive, then it may not matter what great skills and experience you have, its appearance may get it tossed right into the trash. So we will be examining the most common resume design flaws, as well as the best way to go about fixing them:
Choosing the Wrong Font
For word processing – and thus resume creation – purposes most people either use a version Microsoft Word or the open source alternative Open Office Writer. In both softwares the default font is Times New Roman. Therefore, it is only natural that many people create their resume using the font.
The problem is that Times New Roman is a horrible font for a resume. The letter and word spacing look unattractive when a document is printed and it is also not the easiest font to read.
If your look in the font section of your word processing program you will see that you have dozens of other fonts to choose from. Some of the crazier ones are of course totally out of the question for use as a resume font. Here though are three common fonts that work very well:
As you can see, each font has a rather different look. Georgia is the easier to read, slightly more elegant cousin of Times New Roman, and is suitable for use on any resume. Arial is a little bolder and is a far more contemporary font. Trebuchet is a stylish, modern font that is super easy to read and would be the perfect choice for any young professional’s resume.
When creating your resume, try it out in several different fonts, printing it out each time on cheaper copy paper, until you find the one that appeals the most to you.
Choosing the Wrong Font Size
You have probably heard that keeping your resume to a single page in size is the best course of action. To this end, in order to cram everything in some people resort to using a tiny font. This of course is actually highly counter- productive because the average person simply cannot read a nine point font at a glance, so the chances that a hiring manager is going to squint to do so are slim.
Set your résumé no smaller than 10 points for sans-serifed type and 11 points for serifed type. Anything smaller, and your résumé is at risk of being shredded. If you have the room to go for a 12 point font you should though, because that will greatly add to your resumes “user friendly” factor.
Choosing the Wrong Paper
The average office supply store carries all kinds of fancy papers that are labeled “resume paper” While you should buy a paper that is slightly heavier than regular copy paper, offerings that are termed “parchment” or “linen” should be avoided because they are too expensive and do nothing to enhance the quality of your resume design.
When it comes to color, an off white or cream is the best choice. Standard white is OK, but can look a little cheap and jarring. And whatever you do, avoid color. Colored resumes simply do not look professional and who knows, the pastel blue you chose because it looked so elegant may actually be the hiring manager’s least favorite color, which means it will be dismissed before they even read the first line.
Adding Too Many Embellishments
Some veteran jobseekers ruin a well designed and laid out resume by adding too many extra embellishments. However many borders you word processing program allows you to add to a document do not be tempted. A border merely distracts attention from the body of the copy, and that is the last thing you want if your resume is actually going to stand a chance of being read in entirety.
You can add some character to your resume without going over the top though. Increase the font size of your headings by a point and bold them. If you have the room make your name a little bit larger than the rest of the copy, so that it stands out. Using a different colored font for headings can be effective as well, but only one, or your resume will end up looking rather juvenile and unprofessional.