The Truth About Resume Formatting and Design

As a recruiter and career coach, I always get questions from people on what the best practice is for resume formatting and design. People are usually nervous about if their current resume is too much, too little, or if they’re even on the right track.

Having seen over 10,000 resumes, I can tell you that having a traditional resume is fine. But, you don’t want to be a candidate that’s perceived as just ‘fine’. Adding a touch of colour and design that still keeps your resume formatting professional and polished is an amazing way to stand out.

Here are three ways you can upgrade your resume formatting so that it catches recruiters’ attentions:

1. Add a brand colour.

A bit of colour can be a refreshing sight for a recruiter who’s scanned hundreds of black and white resumes before getting to yours. My top tip: pick a professional and easily readable brand colour like forest green, blue, or orange to use on your header and position titles. I recommend using no more than two colours at maximum to prevent your resume formatting from coming across as too colourful.

A clever strategy that I’ve seen from some candidates do is to make their resume colours match their target employer’s brand colours. This is an awesome way to generate interest and demonstrate that you’re truly passionate about the role.

2. Create a logo or design for you name.

Your name should be emphasized in any resume. A creative technique I’ve seen quite a lot recently is including a personal, eye-catching logo or shape that relates to the candidates’ application. Including a simple design is an amazing way to show that you’re an innovative, out of the box thinker who deserves an interview. For example, while I was recruiting at Google, one of the candidates I screened formatted his name to match the Google font and colours on the home page. In the end, his resume made such a great impression that it was circulated throughout the office!

3. Use formatting techniques to minimize clutter and maximize white space.

A resume format that has a good amount of white space is one that can be easily read and understood. I recommend always striving to have as much white space as possible as this will force you to be more concise with the information you choose to include. To make sure your resume looks manageable, avoid using more than two fonts and ensure that they are easily screened. The fonts that are best to scan through are Arial, Gill Sans MT, Trebuchet, Lucinda Sans, Tahoma, and Verdana.

While you’re at it, use lines and clear headers of a different size to segment your resume and ensure that all the details flow logically. Before you submit your application, do a quick test print to make sure your resume formatting fits well on paper.

Do you have any questions about resume formatting and design? Let me know in the comments section!


2 thoughts on “The Truth About Resume Formatting and Design”

  1. Hello Diana,

    I have formatted my résumé by using ‘text boxes’ to organize my experience. If I apply for a position through an online system, will the text in the boxes be recognized through that system? Or for those application systems, should I stick with plain text resumes?

    Thank you!

  2. Hello Madiha,

    Thanks for reading! Your text boxes will be recognized, but online systems can sometimes have a tough time recognizing headers.

    Hope this helps.


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