How to Design a Job-Winning Resume


Manager interviewing a potential new employee
Manager conducting an interview with a potential new employee at her desk inside of an office

If you’ve Googled “winning resume designs,” you may be feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the options. Should you go with a conservative or bold style? Does everyone include a photo? Is it best to choose creative fonts? And what about color? 

You may have even come across dozens of resume writing solutions offering hundreds of creative resume designs. Before you fall for their products, ask yourself, why are they giving you hundreds of design options? If they had truly done the research, wouldn’t they have narrowed it down to a short list of the most effective designs? 
The truth is there are countless flashy and unique resume designs out there. However, the goal of your resume is to land an interview, not win a design competition. A good resume showcases your skills and qualifications. The best way to do this is by making it easy to read. Don’t let the design get in the way!

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Focus on your audience 

When designing a winning resume, ask yourself who your audience is. According to research, hiring managers spend around seven seconds looking at your resume. Your reader isn’t going to search around a cute, unusual design to find important information. 

If the company is traditional, look for a clean and polished design. Is the job creative and bold? Consider including a subtle yet unique design element, such as a bit of color. It’s OK to add a bit of personality to your resume, but sticking with a simple, clean design makes it easy to read and helps you avoid looking outdated. 

Once you’ve settled on a general design or template, ask yourself two questions. 

  • Does the design distract you from the content? 
  • Are your key qualifications easy to spot during a seven-second skim? 

Set a timer, scan your resume and see what sticks out to you, because if you’re distracted by the design, the hiring manager will be too.  

Keep it simple 

No matter what winning resume design you choose, KISS is a good rule of thumb , so keep it simple, stupid. Make it your goal to create a clear, concise resume that shows the hiring manager you’re ready to excel on the job.  

  • Avoid crazy fonts. Don’t let the font distract your reader. Choose a simple, easy to read font, so only use one or two font styles and stick with consistent sizes. For body text, use a 10-12 point size font. Subheadings can be a few points larger. 
  • Be consistent. Keep styling and spacing consistent throughout the resume. For example, if you use circle bullet points in the first half, be sure to use circle bullet points throughout.
  • Include white space. Don’t fill up every inch of the page with text. Instead, balance your text with white space to give the page a clean look and make it easy to read. 
  • Break it down. Avoid large blocks of text. Use subheadings to section off related information and bulleted text to break large sections down into easy-to-read chunks. 
  • Skip fancy graphics. Pie charts and illustrations can distract the reader, because if a company is using resume-scanning software, it may not get picked up. 
  • Include the numbers. Hiring managers care about results. Since they are likely skimming your resume, including quantifiable milestones will help you stand out. Sharing measurable metrics (such as, “I increased annual revenue by 20%”) showcases your value in a clear and concise way. 
  • Customize the content. Tailor your resume to each job you apply for. Customizing your content helps ensure you are highlighting relevant skills and experiences, making it more likely for your resume to be noticed. 
  • Proofread. A resume riddled with errors is likely to end up right in the trash. Once you’re done, ask a friend to review it.

It can be easy to get carried away with cute design elements and graphics. While there are some very specific situations that call for an over the top resume design, choosing a simple design is often most effective. Additionally, when the design is familiar, it is easier for the reader to take in the information. After all, it is ultimately your qualifications that get you the interview. 

Bottom line

Goodbye, flashy and bold. A simple, clean design results in a winning resume that allows your qualifications to stand out. After all, it’s about you, not the resume design. 
Do you have more questions regarding your resume or even your job search? Check out LeadUp Career’s blog or purchase our resume toolkit today!

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