While content is king in resumes at any level, the look and feel of the document is an important consideration as you climb the career ladder. In this post I’d like to share some visual resume makeovers with you to give you an idea how you can lift your document to a new level with a few key formatting changes.
What do I mean by a resume’s “look and feel?” In the software design world, this phrase refers to web elements leveraged by users to navigate the site, including colors, shapes, layout, and typefaces. It also includes more dynamic elements like buttons, boxes, and menus. In the resume world, look and feel refers to similar items, including the use of color and shapes, the document’s layout and organization, and the selection of fonts/font sizes. It also includes dynamic elements such as tables, bullets, text boxes, graphs, charts, logos, and images.
While not all resumes should necessarily use all of these features, when their selection is aligned with a job seeker’s brand, the result is a powerful presentation of the candidate’s unique accomplishments and capabilities. All of these elements are more critical in mid-management, senior management, and C-suite resumes, however, given the extensive experience and achievements of such candidates.
Let’s take a look at a senior sales resume for our first example. It uses a simple but stylish logo for the name, followed by the client’s career target and a tagline. The summary is set a soft blue background with key achievements bulleted in red. His summary section ends with a horizontal listing of his strongest skills separated by bullets. The overall impact is stylish, streamlined, and executive in tone.
Note that though it isn’t visible, the resume’s header was created with a table with no borders. I then loaded a shape behind the client’s name to create the logo at the top right. This approach was also used to create the section headers, though I aligned them with the right side of the page to create a balanced look.
In the work history section of this resume I crafted achievement-driven headlines for his most important roles and highlighted them in the same color I used to showcase his summary. These headlines are followed by lean, results-focused accomplishments set off by a colored bullet.
This next example is the fictionalized resume of a C-suite leader. Because this candidate’s background includes wide industry exposure (important in the private equity sector) and board directorships, I elected to showcase them in his summary to maximize the “oomph” factor of his document.
Once again I have used a table to organize and color-code this information for easy reading.
My third example is that of a Technology Sales Manager. With a history of strong sales results behind her, I decided to construct a chart in a text box to call attention to her year-over-year track record.
Note that the text box matches her logo in style and color, which is echoed in her tagline and skills section bullets.
I also used a combination of tables and highlights to introduce and organize her achievements while showcasing key gains in a graphic style.
Color, formatting, and graphic elements should always be aligned with your career brand, targeted roles, and preferred industries. The finance industry, for example, is highly conservative, so it’s best to use conservative colors and styling for senior roles in that sector. Someone in a highly creative occupation, on the other hand, can get away with a bit more color and design in their resume.
Also consider the level of the roles you are pursuing – the higher the positions you pursue, the more conservatively elegant the resume should be unless your career goal, brand, and/or personality warrant a more creative approach.
Be careful not to overdo formatting in your resume. Too much of a good thing can be damaging. Limit font and bullet selections to 2 types; I generally recommend the use of no more than 3 colors in a resume. Fonts should be chosen based on readability and universality. And most of all, remember that highly styled resumes like the examples shared here should never be uploaded to job board, recruiter, or employer websites, as they will not be accurately read by computers. And let’s face it – the color and style of these documents aren’t for the computers, they’re for humans, so these kinds of resumes are best shared with humans in MS Word and PDF files only.