How do you make your resume stand out in a crowded market? Although the Canadian market is job-rich and unemployment is at a 40-year low, job postings still receive dozens of applications. It’s easy to get lost in the jumble.
One method job seekers and resume experts have been advocating is the “creative” resume. These resumes are often colourful and graphic-heavy. They’re slickly designed, leaving the reader with the impression of a brochure for a graphic design company.
While good design is important to your resume, a creative resume could be hurting you in more ways than you know.
1. Your PDF Isn’t Searchable
If your resume relies heavily on graphics, you want to make sure those images don’t shift around on you. Microsoft Word documents tend to move. Unless you’ve anchored all items in your resume, things will shift around when the hiring manager opens your resume.
The solution is to use a fixed layout, which typically means making a PDF of your resume. Here’s a major problem though. Most candidates don’t make their PDF resumes searchable. Recruiters and hiring managers put resumes through specialized programs to find keywords. If your resume isn’t searchable, they won’t be able to find keywords.
If your resume isn’t searchable, the hiring manager isn’t going to read it over either. They’re going to put you in the discard pile and move on to the next candidate.
2. You’re Not a Graphic Designer
Are you applying for a graphic design job? If the answer is no, why are you using a resume that looks like you are? Unless you need to showcase your skills in Adobe Illustrator to land your next engineering role, relatively few hiring managers are impressed with your slickly designed resume.
Focus instead on ensuring you have the right content for the job you want. A brightly coloured resume may grab attention, but the hiring manager isn’t going to pay attention if there’s no substance behind it.
3. The Layout Is Too Busy
If you’re not a graphic designer, you’re also running some risks by using a design-heavy resume. When was the last time you thought about the rules of good design?
Used properly, design can aid the reader. It draws the eye to certain information or makes it easier to scan a document and get a sense of what it’s about. When used poorly, design makes it difficult to read your resume.
Unfortunately, most “creative” resumes end up feeling cluttered and disorganized. If you haven’t followed the rules of good design, hiring managers may feel overwhelmed. They may not know where to look. Some information may get lost. The hiring manager may actually miss key points.
Stick to a clean and simple template. A classic design for Word is never a misstep. If you’re truly compelled to go with something more original, pick a clean, streamlined template from a professional designer.
4. You Have Too Many Fonts
Like design, fonts can be used to draw the reader’s attention to certain information. Put something in bold, and you’ve got instant emphasis. Italics also draw the eye. Switching fonts also makes information pop, as people are attracted to the difference.
A good rule of thumb is to never use more than two or three fonts in a book-length document. Since your resume is only a couple of pages, one font is enough. Two should be a maximum. If you have seven or eight different fonts on your resume, the hiring manager is going to close the document and walk away.
Use emphasis sparingly as well. You may feel everything is important, but overuse of italics or bold fatigues the eye.
Design can help set you apart. Good design will most definitely catch a hiring manager’s eye. Sometimes, the best designs are the simplest ones. Keep things looking clean, streamlined, and professional and you’ll have a much better chance of landing your dream job.