So you’ve labored with sweat and tears writing your résumé,and now
you’re all set to turn it into a magnificently designed creation.
Unfortunately, with the freedom of modern computers and fancy
software, comes huge opportunities for abuse. When it comes to
résumés, both non-designers and professional designers commit some
almost unforgivable sins. Here are the 7 deadly sins of résumé
design and how to repent:
- Fancy “résumé” paper
- Times New Roman
- Teeny tiny font size
- Grey text
- Excessive decoration
- Weird paper size
- Horizontal format
To repent: Save your money and get paper with a plain smooth finish. It can be slightly heavier than regular copy paper, but not stiff as a board. An ever so slight hint of cream is fine. It’ll make your resume easier on the eyes than the super-ultra-pure-snow-driven white paper many designers are fond of. I prefer Neenah Classic Crest in Natural White with a Super Smooth finish. Never ever use pink paper with strawberry scent.
To repent: Choose a different typeface. I won’t go into explaining x-heights or the difference between Humanist Sans and Geometric Sans. If you’ve got money to spare, pick any of the typefaces in FontShop’s professional collection, and you’ll be a step above Times New Roman. If you’re cheap, use Matthew Carter’s Georgia. It’s free and already installed on your computer. If you send your résumé electronically as a PDF, it also looks quite good on-screen. If you need more guidance, check out Before & After’s tutorial on picking typefaces.
To repent: Set your résumé no smaller than 9 points for sans-serifed type and 10 points for serifed type. Anything smaller, and your résumé is at risk of being shredded.
To repent: Use a laser printer and print in 100% black for ultimate clarity. If you do go grey, don’t go lighter than 75% black.
To repent: Add some character by setting your name slightly larger, or in a different weight as the same typeface as the rest of your résumé. Use color, but very sparingly, if at all. No more than one color in addition to black.
To repent: Keep to the standard paper size of your geographic location. It’s easier to print and package.
To repent: Keep to a portrait format. The first person who sees your résumé is usually a Human Resources person who sees hundreds of resumes daily. Too much variation from the norm makes it harder for them to make a quick assessment of you. If you want to stand out, write a good cover letter instead.
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