Design Week \\ Resumés – life+running

Design Week \\ Resumés

Tuesday I gave you tips for designing blog graphics. Today? Tips for resumés and other job search materials.

Not everybody has a blog. But most everybody needs a job, and to get one you need to have a well-designed resumé — even if you’re not a designer.

A well-designed resumé should be/include:

  1. Easy to read — Choose 1-2 simple typefaces and use one face from each. I prefer to use one font and a couple of its faces. Your font size should be between 9 and 11 points, though 8 is acceptable if you need space to fit on a page.  
  2. Ready to be copied in black and white — Let’s face it. Your resume is going to be printed on a black and white laser. Use a dark enough color for text so that it translates to at least 80% black when printed in black and white. Or forgo color altogether and go black and white.
  3. One page if possible — If you’ve been in the professional world for less than 10 years and the job asks for a resumé, not a CV, aim to keep it to one page. A resumé is a summary of your qualifications, not an encyclopedia.  
  4. Unique, but not over-designed — Use subtle cues so the viewer picks your materials out of a pile of potentially hundereds of applicants. Avoid graphics, use of multiple colors and fonts. Try using unique white space or a different layout (not too unique — remember the laser printer rule). 
  5. Free of any errors (within text OR design) — This is a no-brainer. 
  6. Appropriate for the job for which you’re applying — Don’t forget to edit your resumé and supporting materials when you apply for multiple jobs. Employers know when they’re one of dozens that an applicant has applied for unless you carefully craft your cover letter and resumé to fit their specific position. 
  7. Appropriate supporting materials — You usually need to include a cover letter, references and sometimes other materials with your resumé. These materials should look like a team. Use the same font, colors, header, footer or other graphic / typographic cues to help the reader know that your materials all come in a package. 
  8. Printed on appropriate paper — Though most jobs require you to e-mail your materials, you may need to mail materials AND you always want to have copies of your resumé and supporting materials with you for your job interview — enough copies for the interviewees to view. If you’re applying for a job in the makeup industry, maybe use a paper with a sheen to it. Applying for a job in the green industry? Use an obviously recycled/green stock (avoid heavy speckling — remember the copy machine). 
Here’s some of my resumes throughout the years. I’m not going to claim MINE are great or even good design, but I got calls, interviews and/or offers for almost all the jobs/schools I applied for with these and was continually told that my materials really stood out.
I unfortunately lost the materials I sent out when I was looking for my first design internship in 2005. They broke so many of these rules — not the least of which was the ginormous flower illustration that took up more than a 3rd of the page. Unfortunately they’re lost in the abyss.
2007: Just graduated college. And yes, this is horizontal. And has 3 colors and 2 fonts AND was printed on a shimmery translucent paper. I wasn’t looking to sell nail polish. I wanted to be a web designer.
2010: Specifically for an arts and crafts type position at a DIY magazine.
2011: Basically the same as the 2010 one, but with a different font. I went back to using Univers, partially because I like it and partially because it was the standard font of the university I was applying to (where I now work).
2012 (Current): I realized the green was a bit light in my previous iteration, so I made all the text gray when I applied for grad school this spring.
image of my latest resume used for a grad school application for Iowa State University in 2011
Here’s a glimpse at how I treated my supporting materials for the grad school application (coincidentally it features one of my best design projects ever):
image of my latest portfolio that i used for grad shool Drake University Bulldog Book
Getting inspired? Here are some interesting (albeit somewhat overly designed) examples of resumés to get your gears turning:




As always, leave me a comment if you have questions or if you have something you would like a second opinion on. Helping people get their job search materials together is something I really like to do because I love the idea of design for good — helping people get a job is good (in my opinion anyway).


What are your thoughts on designed resumés? Do you have matching stationery or business cards or any other supporting materials? 

1 Comment

  1. Wow! So, apparently you and i independently came up with almost exactly the same resume design in 2010. Lol 🙂

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