7 Resume Design Tips That Will Help You Get Hired

A resume's design is the first thing that's noticed by hiring managers. Learn how to design the perfect resume.


Resume Design

Whether you’re fresh out of college and just starting out on your professional journey or you’re a seasoned professional looking to advance your career with a promotion, your resume is essential in your job search process. Your resume is the first point of contact with a potential employer and provides the perfect opportunity to leave a memorable first impression. In addition, an impressive resume paves the way for a positive experience in the remaining steps of the hiring process.

But, the first thing that’s noticed by hiring managers is the resume’s design. Once they’ve assessed its design, they move on to read the resume’s contents. While the perfect well-written resume sells your greatest strengths and skills, a solid resume design helps catch the attention of hiring managers and persuades them to continue reading. 

A resume’s design consists of the look, structure and format. This article walks you through the three top resume formats to use and the best resume format most employers and hiring managers prefer. We’ll then explore all the reasons why a resume’s design is so crucial when it comes to crafting the perfect resume. Lastly, we’ll list the top seven resume design tips to prepare a job-winning resume that can be successfully read by an applicant tracking system (ATS). We’ll give you valuable resume design tips that will instantly grab the attention of hiring managers and help you land the job of your dreams.

Is There a Best Resume Format?

Employers use resumes to get a detailed picture of a candidate’s skills, qualifications and experience. For this reason, regardless of your resume’s format, a great resume needs to showcase the following persuasively:

  • Your practical soft skills as they relate to the job description.
  • Your industry-specific hard skills as they relate to the industry and job position you’re applying for. 
  • Your professional achievements in your work history. Specific examples from previous positions showing how your skills and competencies contributed to professional achievements.
  • Any awards, certifications or achievements relevant to the job position. 
  • Your education and any other training you received to advance your career.

The three resume formats can be defined as:

  1. Chronological format: the chronological resume format is the most popular resume format used today and emphasizes a candidate’s work history, career progression and career path. This format is excellent for professionals with ample experience who want to showcase their professional achievements and career growth.
  2. Functional format: the functional resume format emphasizes a candidate’s skills and achievements instead of work history. This resume format is typically used by job seekers with limited or no work experience. If a job seeker has limited work experience, they need to use the functional resume format. Using the functional resume format allows you to showcase all your relevant hard and soft skills and provide specific examples of how those skills achieved positive professional outcomes.
  3. Combination/Hybrid format: the combination resume, or hybrid resume, is a resume format that is the best of both resume types. It successfully fuses vital aspects and benefits of the chronological and functional formats and emphasizes a candidate’s experience, skills and accomplishments. This resume format is excellent for career professionals with a lot of work experience. It allows them to showcase their professional achievements, industry-specific skills and the results they achieved because of it.

The three resume formats differ by the unique approach they take to highlighting each resume section. However, despite their individual approaches, all three resume formats contain the same elements:

  • A candidate’s contact information.
  • An introductory section at the top of the resume, often referred to as a resume summary or professional summary.
  • A skills section that lists a candidate’s relevant soft skills, hard skills or any other industry-specific skills as they relate to the job position they’re applying for.
  • An experience section, or job history section, lists a candidate’s work history.
  • An education section that lists a candidate’s educational achievements, degrees, certifications or other academic-related qualifications.

Why Is Resume Design So Important?

Nailing your resume design is important for a variety of reasons. Resumes allow recruiters to evaluate a job seeker’s skills and qualifications and determine if they’re a good match for the job title and their company. Therefore, your resume’s first objective needs to focus on utilizing your resume’s design to catch the attention of potential employers. At the same time, your resume must showcase your relevant skills and work experience in the most convincing and easy-to-follow way.
A resume design is your resume’s first opportunity to leave a remarkable first impression with recruiters and hiring managers. Hiring managers quickly assess a resume’s design before deciding to read a candidate’s skills and qualifications. Recruiters and hiring managers usually take less than ten seconds to review a resume. So a resume design that’s easily scannable, aesthetically pleasing and in the correct format is crucial. 
Virtually all respected companies today typically receive hundreds of job applications to a single job post. Therefore reviewing each job application manually is almost impossible for recruiters. Because of this, companies usually implement specific software that aids them in their hiring and recruiting needs. One such software that is most frequently used is the applicant tracking system (ATS) software. ATS software works by collecting, organizing and tracking resumes, cover letters and job applications. 
Companies use ATS software to filter out irrelevant job applications and resumes. The software approves only the most relevant resumes that fit the job position and company’s needs. The software automatically reviews all job applications and their resumes so the hiring managers can better spend their time reviewing the relevant resumes and candidates. 
Designing and writing a resume with professional resume templates that consider the ATS is crucial for job seekers. Unfortunately, many professionals starting out on their professional journey don’t take the ATS into account and use the first free resume template they find. This may be a basic resume that might not be ATS-friendly. Because of this avoidable resume design mistake, many new professional job seekers spend weeks, if not months, applying to jobs with nothing to show for it because their resumes are most likely getting filtered out by ATS software.
To avoid this rookie mistake, use ATS-friendly resume examples to create a resume that actually reaches the desks of hiring managers. Whether you seek a minimalist, basic, traditional or even a creative resume design, ensuring they’re ATS-friendly can significantly improve your job-hunting process and your chances of landing more interviews.

What Are the Top 7 Resume Design Tips?

Use the following top resume design tips to craft the perfect professional resume:
1. Choose the ideal resume font. You should use something professional and easy to read, like Arial, Cambria, Verdana, Calibri, Helvetica or Times Roman. Set the font size to 10 to 12 pt. so that it is easy to read for hiring managers. Lastly, always be consistent with the font you use throughout your resume.
2.Be visual with the contact section. Your contact section should be at the top of your resume in the header. You can make your contact section visually appealing by using colors, but you should make sure that the colors you choose aren’t over-the-top. You can also implement reverse type by making your contact section a dark color and the text a light color. Graphic designers often implement reverse type to improve the design of a printed page. Finally, you can include icons in your contact section, such as a telephone icon or an email icon, for example. Depending on if it’s applicable and acceptable in your industry, you can even include your social media links with corresponding icons for each social media platform, such as a LinkedIn logo icon.
3. Make your resume design and layout easy to read by effectively utilizing white space to make your resume’s content easy to follow. Hiring managers don’t have the time to allocate even a single minute for every resume they receive and usually glance it over in less than 10 seconds.
4. Stay organized by arranging your information into clear, separate rows and columns. You should also organize your resume by using bullet points and concise phrases whenever possible.
4. Follow the design norms typically associated with the industry you’re applying to. For example, if you’re applying to an accounting position, you should consider using a straightforward font and resume design. On the other hand, if you’re applying to a graphic design or web design position, you should consider adding some colorful yet tasteful design elements to your resume to give potential employers a glimpse of your design skills in action.
5. Use a clean and streamlined design, with your personal touch emerging through simple things like header colors. Consider using darker header colors such as navy blue, burgundy or dark green and reverse type text.
6. Use a PDF file type for your resume. MS Word is acceptable, too. You can use our resume builder to create and save resumes in PDF and MS Word formats.

FAQ: Resume Design

Q: Can a resume be two pages?

Yes, a resume can be up to two pages for most professions. However, the ideal length is one page.

Q: What's the biggest mistake you should avoid when designing and writing a resume?

Some mistakes you should avoid when designing and writing your resume include:

  • Being sloppy and leaving typos or spelling errors in your resume 
  • Using the wrong resume format type that doesn’t show off your work experience and skills to best advantage

Q: What should I leave off my resume?

You shouldn’t include overly personal information on your resume, such as age, marital status, religion, birth country, or if you have children.

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