Understanding Resume Design (Definition, Steps and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 25 November 2022

Published 9 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An excellent resume can help you secure a job, as it can make your application competitive. Good resume design can add personality to your application, communicate important information and make your application appealing. Understanding how to design your resume effectively can help you optimise it for each job application. In this article, we define resume design, outline how to design your resume and list helpful tips.

What is resume design?

Resume design is the structure, look and format of a resume. A professionally designed resume can improve your resume's appeal and support its content. It can make it easier to read and highlight essential information. Your resume may draw hiring managers to review it based on how aesthetically pleasing it is before they read its content. Designing your resume well can help you impress these recruiters.

Related: How to Format Your Resume (With Examples)

How to design a resume

Follow these steps when designing a resume:

1. Choose the right font

Select a professional and elegant font for your resume. This can reveal aspects of your personality, such as being organised. You can use a single font throughout your resume or employ your design skills to create a different font for the section headings and header to improve the overall appearance of the resume. You may use bold formatting on your resume heading and section headings to differentiate them from the rest of the resume content.

Related: How to Select the Best Font for Your Resume

2. Set the margins

Setting the margins can transform your resume into a well-designed document. Ensure the margins are identical for all four edges. One-inch margins may be an excellent choice. If you prefer a slick resume design with no bold formatting and smaller fonts, you can extend the margins to an inch and a half. This approach can give your resume an elegant, minimalist touch.

3. Have sections

You can divide your resume into different sections. Each part highlights helpful information or another aspect of your career. Resumes often have the pattern below, but you can add more segments or re-order them to have a unique resume. The sections are:

  • contact information

  • resume summary or resume objective

  • work experience

  • education

  • skills

  • additional sections

4. Make the resume header appealing

The resume header can help you impress recruiters. Make it elegant so hiring managers notice this part before seeing the other sections. You can use the common standard left-aligned horizontal header. This format is simple and readable. If you've changed your name, use the name one can easily find when locating your information or profile. The resume header can include:

  • your first and last name

  • current job title

  • email

  • phone number

  • a link to your website or social platforms, if you have any

5. Use clear section headers

You can differentiate your section headers from the other text to design the resume well. You can type the headlines in capital letters or use boldface type to make them appear slightly more significant than the other text. This approach saves recruiters time by helping them notice essential sections quickly.

6. Use the white space well

Recruiters review hundreds of resumes daily. They may prefer examining a resume with several white spaces. You can have this layout if you space your information well and optimise your resume's length. You can have a spacing of 1.15 or 1.5 inches, add a space after and before every section heading, leave a space after every entry and be consistent when designing the entire resume.

7. Limit the bullet points

Bullet points can separate the resume content and make it easier to review. You can use them when listing your education details or highlighting your professional responsibilities and achievements. Ensure the text you have is relevant. You can limit yourself to five bullet points under each entry to ensure you have relevant information. While this option can seem restrictive, it allows you to tailor your resume to include the information recruiters seek. You may use specific terms and highlight the essential qualifications they require to distinguish your resume from those of other candidates.

8. Keep the resume concise

Be brief and relevant while including all the essential details. This approach can make your resume longer than a page, but ensure that your resume is not more than two pages long. Including the essential information can ensure recruiters have the crucial details to examine your application.

9. Save the well-designed resume in PDF

PDF files can help you keep the resume layout intact. This feature can be helpful when someone opens it on a computer with different text editing software. For infographic resume designs, PDFs can be a safer choice than PNG and JPG files because the latter options can miss raw text. Check that PDFs are acceptable through the job description before submitting your resume. Sending the appropriate format can make it pass the applicant tracking software (ATS) test.

Related: 5 Methods You Can Use to Make a PDF Smaller (With Tips)

Tips for designing your resume

Here are tips to help you design your resume well:

Use data visualisations to demonstrate your soft skills

Data visualisation can be an excellent way to highlight your soft skills. Unique data visualisation can be appealing and differentiate your resume, increasing your chances of getting the job. For example, you can use a pie chart in your resume's top section and a bar graph in its body. Hiring managers can understand you and the information presented better through these visualisations.

Related: Soft Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips

Have a consistent colour palette throughout your resume

Have a consistent colour palette to make your resume appealing. The uniform colour palette can make your resume elegant and easy to read. Hiring managers can consider a resume with consistent use of colour organised and professional, increasing your chances of getting the job.

Related: Top 20 Tools for a Visual Resume (And How to Create Yours)

Highlight your contact details with a different background colour

Ensure hiring managers or recruiters can locate your contact information quickly. You can achieve this goal by highlighting the details using a different colour. Hiring managers can find this information and contact you easily to invite you for an interview.

Include power words on your resume

Include words featured in the job description of the role you're seeking. You can use an adequate amount of powerful words to improve your resume. Including them ensures they notice your resume and differentiate it from the other applications. Using these words can also make the ATS select your application for further consideration. You may include these types of power words:

  • action verbs

  • skill words

  • company values

  • industry buzzwords

  • resume adjectives

  • specific keywords

Related: How to Use Resume Adjectives (With Examples)

Feature icons to show your interests or hobbies

Hiring managers may evaluate if you're a good culture fit. They may recognise that finding suitable candidates can enrich the company's culture. Highlighting your hobbies and interests can show that you can be a team player and have fun. You can use icons to highlight these activities. Have a few well-placed icons to make your hobbies noticeable.

Related: Hobbies to Include in Your Resume

Write a resume introduction fitting your experience

You can consider three types of resume introductions. An objective introduction can suit candidates with little experience in the industry or field. It can resemble an abbreviated cover letter. A qualifications introduction helps candidates list their relevant abilities and soft skills. It can help candidates seeking senior roles. A summary introduction is a brief synopsis of the candidate's relevant experience and jobs. It can help individuals with extensive knowledge and accomplishments in the industry. Keep your introduction brief with pertinent information.

Related: What Is Cover Letter for a Designer? And How To Write One

Include a timeline to visualise experience or education

A simple timeline can help hiring managers visualise your education or experience. They can better understand your information if it has timelines. Ensure the timeline you add is relatively minimalistic. Make it informative, yet exciting to support your other content. You may use a timeline infographic to organise your education if you have several degrees.

Use icon headers to highlight essential information

You may use icons as headers for the essential information in your resume. For example, you can attach a related icon to every education milestone, skill or ability. These icons can help hiring managers notice and grasp your information quickly. They may also make your resume unique. This can ensure the recruiters see it among the many resumes they review before recommending a candidate for the role.

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