Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Beautiful" But Mostly Ineffective Resume Designs

I found this blog post on the Internet and was intrigued by the concept -- "beautiful" resume designs. Although I should note that the post was titled "Beautiful Resume Ideas That Work."

Not to be catty, but I seriously doubt that these resumes "worked." For one thing, only a handful of them will work with today's resume management systems, which don't handle unconventional graphics well.

Some examples:
Okay, this guy is applying for a graphic marketing position ... so he gets a little more leeway than most candidates. But really ... writing on your resume with a red crayon? That just screams "I have kids!" (even if you don't). And what's with all the CAPITAL LETTERS? Shouting won't get you an interview. And most important, other than a listing of his "program experience" and educational history, I (the reader) have no concept about his ability to excel in either design (certainly not judged by the design of his resume) or marketing skills. No mention of relevant work experience, internships, projects, or volunteer involvement in any of these areas. Ugh.

Next. In the "I don't know what I want to be when I grow up category" is Jessica, who decided that her resume (for a design position? I think?) should be in two columns. She probably could have fit all of the relevant information in just one column. She has experience volunteering in a pharmacy ... and putting out a publication. You don't have to give us all the nitty-gritty details about your volunteer work, dear Jessica. And putting address "on request"? Please. Are you in the Witness Protection Program? Either just leave it off, or put it on there already!
Jessica Edwards resume
While these resumes may represent some cutting-edge designs, as resume writers, we need to remember our audience, first and foremost. Many of them will be receiving the documents via e-mail. They prefer Word over Adobe Acrobat PDF (or even .JPG files, which some of these were).

NO ERRORS! I don't care how great it looks. If you don't spell things correctly, the resume will go in the round file.

Most of these were for entry-level positions, so one page isn't unusual. But you don't have to include ALL of your previous work experience in order to fill the page. Instead, elaborate on the client's relevant information. When working with entry-level clients, a common mistake is to include too much of this irrelevant information.

Design for the photocopier (or the scanner). While many of the resumes were pretty, if they were to be scanned into a resume management system, they'd be a mess. Multiple columns, ornate design elements, lightly colored fonts ... all of these are the enemy of the bureaucracy. If you can be assured that your client is going to hand his/her resume directly to the hiring manager in person, that may work. But in today's diversified world of job searching, you need to design resumes that work WITH technology.


  1. Successful Entry Level Resumes and Cover Letter Samples

    Great Post! Just wanted to add some valuable tips to keep in mind...

    If you are entering the job market for the first time you must finds ways to brand yourself as unique. In your entry-level resume you should have a list accomplishments and achievements NOT tasks. If your achievements were completed under time constraints remember to include this as well. Your entry level resume should only include your GPA if it was exceptional, 3.5 or greater, or if the job requires it. You will find many samples of entry level resumes that say you should include your personal skills. This is only a logical thing to do when your past job experience ca not prove your skills. And as an entry level job seeker you probably don not have much job experience. That is OK. Find other things to mention in your entry level resume. List achievements in a group project or success in some form of competition you competed in during school. Another important thing to note for all entry level resumes is that you should always include dates on your resume. Recruiters and HR personal become concerned when they see large gaps.

    Successful Entry Level Resumes and Cover Letter Samples

  2. Hey Bridget, glad my article got you thinking. You might want to join in the debate that recently followed:

    Rebuttal: Why You Do Need a Beautiful Resume - http://jobmob.co.il/blog/why-you-need-a-beautiful-resume/

  3. Thanks, Jacob!

    I appreciate your link to Scott's rebuttal. With more than 12 years of experience as a professional resume writer, I'd have to agree with Scott's assessment, especially the three-point checklist.

    But great professional resume writers don't neglect design either -- they just incorporate it into the resume WHILE keeping in mind the technology requirements currently being utilized in many employers.

    Unless you're handing your resume directly to the hiring manager, many of the "beautiful" resumes featured in your articles won't be so beautiful when they're received. And that's a huge consideration for job seekers.

    It's the equivalent of your Ferrari example -- except when it leaves the Ferrari dealership it's beautiful, polished and scratch-free, but goes through a jungle and hailstorm before arriving at its owner's door.

    Thanks for your comment!

  4. I don't know Scott - I think this is a bit heavy. These resume examples are not soooo 'out there'. They tell me that they're trying to do something better that just the average. That's not a reason to hire or even call them in for an interview but it's not a bad start - to get me thinking on a more positive track about them.

  5. Ah, but continuing with the example- it wouldn't be intelligent to drive a Ferrari just anywhere, least of all in a jungle or hailstorm.

    The designs were meant to inspire. Some of them are too flashy for e.g. a legal resume while others are not and would only impress.

    A resume is a sales document. Knowing your target audience will help you decide which design is appropriate, but there will always be a design.

    On a tangent- why do you think resume scanners aren't intelligent enough to neglect non-textual elements?

  6. Thanks for sharing this valuble information and it is useful for us.we also provides Entry Level Resume Writing

  7. Thanks for sharing this valuble information and it is useful for us.we also provides Entry Level Resume Writing