As the sole recruiter for a growing business, I read resumes every day. Having an abundance of resumes to screen is both a blessing and a major buyer of my time.
On top of this, we all know that great talent moves fast — which means I must also be swift.
To balance these demands, I look at each resume briefly, scanning the resume and hoping to find the skills I need.
This is where the importance of resume design comes into play — a well-designed CV helps you stand out from the crowd and further sell your skills and experiences. Here’s one great resume design example:
After all, what other piece of paper has the power to land you an interview for your dream job and change your career? Not many!
In this post, I’ll be sharing my top resume design ideas, templates and tips for an all-star CV that will be sure to get you noticed by a hiring manager in 2020. I’ll also be sharing some helpful resume optimization tips collected for a diverse group of experts that will help you figure out exactly what to include in your resume.
Jump ahead (click links below):
- Resume Design Tips By Experts
- Resume design ideas
- Basic resume template
- Professional resume template
- Parts of a resume & what a resume should include
Short on time? Here’s the condensed video version:
Resume Writing Tips from 10 Resume Experts:
1. Give your resume design an eye-catching border
I think it’s safe to say that most resumes are going to be printed on a crisp piece of white paper. And the most color that they will use is probably a light gray or a dark blue. Just like the fifty other resumes that a manager has on their desk.
Adding an interesting border, like in the resume design example above, can really help your resume to stand out. You can also inject a little bit of your personality into the resume without pulling the reader’s attention away from the important information as well.
I would recommend using a flat color, a simple texture or muted pattern for your border. Anything else, like a photo or gradient, will be more distracting than helpful.
I think it goes without saying it is best to consider the nature of the company you’re applying to when selecting an appropriate border for your resume. Your approach should be more conservative if you’re applying for a bank or other more formal company.
But a creatively driven company, like Venngage, will likely appreciate something more adventurous.
Just so you know: Some of our templates are free, some are paid. Click any template, sign up for free and use our free online resume maker to easily customize the template (no design experience required!).
2. Use data visualizations to show off your soft skills
Talking about what soft skills you possess is a little difficult on your resume. If you’re going to advertise them, back up your claims with evidence during your interviews.
I believe a data visualization, like in this resume design, is a fantastic way to highlight your soft, and hard skills. A unique data visualization will not only catch the eye of the reader, but it will also present your information in a unique way, making for a more successful CV.
In this resume template, they use a pie chart at the top and a bar graph in the body of the resume. Both of these visualizations will help the hiring manager get to know the applicant a little better and provide them with the information they need to make an informed decision.
Additionally, I really like that in this resume design example they included some keywords that describe the candidate from the beginning.
3. Make sure your resume design fits your industry
Not every design tip that I will talk about in this part of the article is praised in every industry. And I think this resume design above is a great illustration of this point.
A resume like this is perfect for creative industries but may not be appreciated in corporate industries like a bank.
A creative resume like the one below is perfect for a professional photographer because it allows them to show off their work.
However, if you’re an amateur photographer applying for a Customer Support role it might not add value to your application.
So if you plan to create a resume like this, make it’s appropriate for the job or industry you’re applying to!
4. Stick to a consistent color palette throughout your resume design
If you want your resume to succeed, I would strive to make consistent design choices throughout. Make it your mission to use the same fonts, types of icons and colors in each section of your resume.
In this resume design template, the designers stuck to a beautifully consistent color palette. With light pinks interacting perfectly with the darker purples. Additionally, because they used a white background the colors really jump off the page.
The consistent color palette not only looks great but makes the resume very easy to read as well.
Now if they didn’t use the same colors for the headers, subheaders and data visualization, this resume would look chaotic and unprofessional.
5. Avoid overloading your resume with too much information
It can be hard to summarize everything you’ve practiced, learned and accomplished during your time at a company. However, it is important to not say too much on your resume and risk overwhelming the hiring manager with the amount of information you are presenting.
To combat information overload when creating your resume, use a basic resume template with a simple, clean design. This will challenge you to condense your points to focus on what really needs to be said in order to position yourself as an ideal candidate for the role.
For example, this basic resume template only highlights two past jobs:
Sometimes less is more. The simple layout makes this basic resume template easy to read and the core skills easy to detect.
Just make sure to adjust your resume when you’re applying to different jobs–swap out the skills listed for others that more closely match the job description.
6. Highlight your contact information with a different background color
Like I said above, your contact information should be very easy to find. Preferably it will be placed in its own section of the resume for easy access.
I mean, you don’t want to miss out on the job of your dreams because the manager or software can’t find your phone number!
One of the simplest ways to draw attention to your contact information is to use a different background color.
For example, the simple resume template below uses almost 1/4th of the page for their contact information:
They made it stand out from the rest of the resume just by changing the background color to a nice shade of beige. This might not seem like an earth-shattering addition, but it will help a reader quickly consume and use your resume!
7. Never use a single font for your resume design
Using a single font throughout your resume is one of the worst things design decisions you can make.
There are literally thousands of fonts out in the world you can use. Honestly, with that many choices there’s no excuse for using a single font on any design project, but especially a resume.
If you’re not comfortable picking fonts yet, check out our font guide first!
In this resume template, they use a combination of three different fonts and italics to make things interesting:
One for the headers(1), another for the sub-headers(2) and a final one for the body text(3). A combination that features serif and sans serif fonts like this makes the resume easy to skim and jump from one piece of information to the next.
This professional resume template uses a different font for the header and subheaders, but the differences are subtle to keep the overall look conservative and clean.
8. Always include some power words in your resume
As a baseline, you should always strive to include words used directly in the job description for the role you’re apply for. As the hiring manager has these words in mind when screening resumes, it is a surefire way to make your resume pop.
To help your resume really stand out, I would recommend using power words throughout the descriptions. According to TheBalanceCareers, these power words should include:
- Action verbs
- Company values
- Skill words
- Specific keywords
- Industry buzzwords
In the resume introduction above they used a nice mix of all of those types of power words.
Using these powerful words will not only help your resume stand out to hiring managers, but also make it through the software they use to filter candidates.
Just remember to not go overboard and include too many of these power words. It may cause your resume to look inauthentic, and end up in the trash can.
9. Design a data-driven infographic resume
If you were not away, Venngage started as an infographic resume company! Back in the day, we would create an infographic resume from the information on your LinkedIn page.
Obviously, we have come a long way since then, but we still know how powerful an infographic resume can be.
A combination of data visualizations, icons, and more can make your resume design wholly unique and easily digestible. In the resume template below they used not one, but four data visualization to tell their professional story:
This approach is a great way for someone with not a ton of experience to fill out a full resume. As you can see above, they used a timeline to outline their education, travels, and internships. And then a bar chart to explain some of the skills they learned while in college.
Overall, I think it’s a resume that will definitely get you a job interview! You’ll appear creative and innovative, two skills that are highly celebrated in the modern workforce.
Related Reading: How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions Like a Pro!
10. Use bold colors to highlight important power words
In a previous tip, we briefly talked about how important power words are. These are words that could make or break your resume. So if you skipped that part, go back and read it now!
If you want your power words to stand out even more on your resume, use a different font color like below:
This designer made sure that the reader will see those power words by highlighting them with a nice lilac.
Not sure what colors to use in your resume? Check out this in depth color guide!
I really like this approach because those keywords will stick with a manager throughout the hiring process. Plus, if they are just skimming the resumes those power words will immediately jump out and grab their attention.
If you are creating a resume for a more conservative workplace, you could adapt this approach and simply bold the text you want to stand out.
11. Include direct links to your social media platforms
In the contact section of your resume, use links that a manager can easily copy and paste into their browser. Remember that you want to make your resume easy to use and interact with.
I would also recommend adding any links to your work on other sites like LinkedIn, Medium, Behance, Dribbble or even your own WordPress or Wix website. The resume design example above actually includes a direct link to their Behance profile.
A curious hiring manager might want to check out your past work before looking at the rest of your resume. Again, make it almost too easy to learn more about you with a simple link.
If your work is good enough, it might just get you the job. Or at least make your name stand above all the other applicants.
Remember, the links you should provide will vary based on industry and job role. Be sure to only include links to your social media profiles that support your candidacy for the role you are seeking. Yes, the photos of your puppy on your Instagram are cute, but sharing a profile of this nature is likely appropriate for a Community Manager but not a Software Developer.
12. Feature icons to illustrate your interests outside of work
Most companies these days don’t just care about your experience, they also want to see if you’re a good culture fit.
At Venngage we truly value finding candidates that will enrich our culture by aligning with our core values. This is because we can always teach you a skill or process, but not how to be a team player. Or a fun person to work with!
I know that including a concept as large and abstract as your personality on your resume can be a little tricky. That’s why I recommend using a few simple icons to illustrate your hobbies and interests. Like so:
As you can see in this resume design example, the designer included a bunch of icons to show what he likes to do in his free time.
Hiring managers can learn a lot about a candidate with this information, so don’t forget to include it. And with a few well-placed icons you can make your resume very visually appealing as well.
13. Write a resume introduction that fits your experience
According to the fine people at ResumeCoach, there are 3 main types of resume introductions that you can use.
The first one, called an Objective Introduction, should be used if you don’t have a lot of experience in the field or industry. This kind of introduction can be thought of like an abbreviated cover letter as well. The resume example below lists some very interesting information about the applicant:
Next, we have the Qualifications Introduction, which is exactly what it sounds like. With this kind of intro, you should only list your relevant soft skills and abilities. The resume design example below uses their management experience as a focal point as they applied for a more senior role:
And finally, we have the Summary Introduction, which is basically a brief synopsis of your relevant jobs and experience. This introduction is built for people who have a ton of direct experience and accomplishments in the industry.
The resume design example below includes a nice mix of accomplishments, qualifications, and experience:
Just remember to include only things that are very relevant to the job that you’re applying for. Also, don’t write a novel on your resume, keep any introduction short and sweet.
14. Include a simple timeline to visualize education or experience
One of the best ways to visualize your past experience or education is with a simple timeline.
Most people are very familiar with timelines and will be able to consume the information efficiently.
I should be noted that any timeline you add to your resume should be relatively minimalist.
The timeline in this resume example strikes the perfect balance between informative and interesting. If the timeline design gets too complicated, it will distract from your written information.
You can even use a timeline infographic to organize your education if you have multiple degrees like they did above.
WATCH: How to customize this resume template [Venngage tutorial]
15. Use icon headers to draw the eye to important information
Icons can be used in a bunch of different ways on your resume. We have already outlined a few interesting ways you can incorporate them in previous sections.
But I think the best way to use icons is as headers for important information in your resume.
Not sure what I’m talking about? Take a look at how this designer used icons across his resume:
For every ability, skill, educational milestone and more they attached a related icon. This won’t only help the reader gain some quick insight but also draw their eye to each piece of information.
Plus it makes the resume look extremely unique!
16. Use design to showcase the value of your skills
A well-designed resume can help to highlight your skills. Good design helps your resume look cleaner and draw the hiring manager’s eye to the bits you want to showcase. A poorly designed resume can be distracting.
Above all the different elements of design one can include to make the optimal resume, it is crucial to consider the elements, or principles, of visual design. The principles of design work together to create a visual piece that is aesthetically pleasing and optimizes the user experience. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, the experience of the hiring manager viewing your resume is highly important for your success.
Some principles of design you should consider when customizing your rockstar of a resume include:
- White space
What should a resume include?
Let’s dive into the essential parts of a resume that every hiring manager is looking for.
1. Contact information
The first part of your resume should always include your name and contact information. You want to make it as easy as possible for a hiring manager to find you on professional websites (such as LinkedIn) or contact you with any questions or comments.
So don’t hide this pertinent info at the bottom of your resume, or in some other odd space. Be sure this information is both clear and obvious to the reader, like in this template where it’s clearly presented in the top right:
The resume contact information section should include your:
- Full Name
- Phone Number
- Home Address
- Email Address
- Social Media Usernames (if applicable)
Only include your website or social media handles if it relates to your job function i.e. a social media marketer would want to add their social usernames and a writer would want to link to a portfolio.
That said, you should always mention your LinkedIn profile.
2. Resume introduction
Once a hiring manager has skimmed through the contact information, your resume introduction is probably going to be the first substantial thing they read. This is your first opportunity to pitch yourself as an ideal fit for the role–imagine this as the “hard copy” of your elevator pitch.
You should only include things that really set you apart from the rest of the applicants, such as:
- Direct Experience
- Soft & Hard Skills
For example, this tidy infographic resume neatly sums up the applicant’s experience in the intro:
The resume introduction sets the tone for the story you are trying to sell through your resume. When approached correctly, you can entice the hiring manager to continue reading your resume. So make it count.
3. Relevant Skills
This section is meant to be short and to the point, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Especially if you work in an industry that has an emphasis on technical skills to succeed. These are known as hard skills because they are easily defined and measured.
For example, if you want to be a professional designer you must have a ton of experience with the Adobe suite. But a writer may need WordPress experience. This resume design idea uses a cool graph to illustrate skill level:
You also can highlight soft skills on your resume if they are related to your current or future position. As you probably guessed, soft skills are the opposite of hard skills and are not easily defined or measured.
Highlighting your skills and abilities is important because it is a snapshot of what positions you as an ideal candidate for the role. This section plays a supporting role to the claims you made in your resume Introduction. As hiring managers are often reviewing dozens of resumes at a time, it is crucial to have a precise Introduction and Skills Overview to catch their attention at first glance.
The first entry in your education section should always be the most recent you completed. So if you got an advanced degree, that should come first, followed by your undergraduate degree.
Like the contact section, there are a few things that you should always include in the education part of a resume.
These four pieces of pertinent info include:
- School Name
- School Location
- Years Attended
You really don’t need to include more than that. The hiring manager will ask questions if they want to learn more about your education and such.
5. Job experience
Another essential part of a resume is job experience. Like in the previous section, you should start with your most recent job and work backward.
It’s good to include descriptions of what each opportunity and be sure to use these descriptions to prove how they qualify you for this position. Avoid omitting experiences you do not perceive as relevant to the role, as the benefits of transferable skills may surprise you. However, you may skip the full description of roles from many years ago and just list the basics (who, what and where).
For each job you want to highlight on your resume, include these four things:
- Job title
- Company name
- Dates of employment
- List of responsibilities & achievements
Each of these responsibilities or achievements should be presented as a bullet point like above. Otherwise, your resume will be very hard to read!
The takeaway: top resume design ideas
Keep these resume design ideas in mind when overhauling your CV:
- Use a basic resume template if you need help condensing information
- Stick to a consistent color palette throughout your resume design
- Design a data-driven infographic resume
- Feature icons to illustrate your interests outside of work
- Write a resume introduction that fits your experience
That’s all the resume design tips I have for you today! Hopefully, some of these templates and tips will help you find the perfect job in the future.
And if you’re a hiring manager, don’t forget to check out top recruiting tips from 10 HR experts.
Sources for Infographic:
Ryan Moore, Director of Client Management at PeakSales Recruiting
Jennifer Rogerson, Head of HR at Best Company
Charlette Beasley, Career and Workplace Analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com
Peter Yang, Chief Executive Officer at ResumeGo
Ed Moss, Hiring Manager at Angel List
Nate Richardson, Search Engine Optimization Analyst at BambooHR
Joanna Zambas, CV Specialist and Career Expert at CareerAddict
Iris De Geest, Content Marketer at Survey Anyplace
Anja Zojčeska, Recruitment Marketing Specialist at TalentLyft
Samuel Johns HR Specialist and Hiring Manager Resume Genius
Need some more resume design examples or cover letter suggestions? Start with these two articles: