The content of your resume is massively important, and so is its design. When designing your resume, the main goal is to create a document that can be read quickly and easily by both humans and robots.
Create a resume for ATS (Applicant Tracking System): Applicant tracking systems allow for a more efficient, although not a necessarily more effective, initial screening of resumes. When applying for a position online, your resume may be one of several that gets submitted through this system. An over-designed resume with many graphics can inhibit the system from understanding your resume and consequently mean your resume will be filtered out unknowingly. To ensure your resume makes it past the robot and into the hands of an actual human:
- Use keywords that are present in the job description
- Ensure the job title on your resume matches that in the job description
- Avoid the heavy use of graphics, images, or bullet points that may potentially get rejected by the ATS
- If you are applying directly to a recruiter or to a hiring manager, then you can have a more design-centric version.
More on aesthetics: Many beautiful resume templates with eye-catching graphics and fonts are free for public use online. However, many graphics and intricate formatting options may be filtered out by the ATS. Instead, keep these tips in mind when designing your resume:
- Create clear section headers that are either bolded or placed in a separate column to the left of the corresponding information. This will allow for an employer (or robot) to quickly scan the information.
- Use a professional and readable font. Assuming your resume makes it into the hands of a human, it must be easily read
- You do not have to sacrifice every element of design or playfulness. It is okay to ditch the ‘Times New Roman,’ but think twice about replacing it with ‘Comic Sans.’
Keep it short: Editing all your experience down to one or two pages might sound daunting. But presenting relevant experience is more important than cramming every job, down to your high school summer job at the local ice cream shop, onto your resume. Think twice about what information is truly necessary. For example, an employer will ask for references if they need them. So why take up important resume real estate?
No photo needed: We know you want to show off your professionally-taken LinkedIn headshot (I am sure it is great). However, this photo is likely to take the space of other more relevant information. Living in a digital age means employers will inevitably review your LinkedIn and social profiles, therefore having one on your resume is just not necessary.