I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

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After avoiding the 7 deadly sins of résumé design, you may be asking, “If I can’t use crazy colors, clip art, and other types of decoration, how do I make my résumé stand out from the crowd?” Like many things, the answer lies in the details.

Even if you can’t hire a fancy designer and are stuck with Microsoft Word, a few tweaks can turn your blasé résumé into an elegant and functional showpiece.

Update (Oct 25): As promised, here’s a template of the final résumé. Please credit this site, LifeClever, if you post it elsewhere. Thanks!

The typical résumé

Before starting your résumé makeover, first take a look at a typical one:

00_typical_resume_480.gif

Like most résumés, it was created in Microsoft Word. It doesn’t look horrible, but it could use improvement. You can improve almost all résumés with four steps:

  1. Pick a better typeface
  2. Remove extra indentations
  3. Make it easy to skim
  4. Apply typographic detailing

1. Pick a better typeface

If you’re using Times New Roman, Word’s default typeface, change it now. Times doesn’t read well on-screen and lacks typographic subtleties such as non-lining numbers. Because it’s available on virtually all computers and designed to be readable on on-screen, try Georgia instead.

At the same point size, Georgia appears larger than Times New Roman, so you’ll want to set the font size a point or two smaller. Just don’t go below 9 points.

To improve readability, also increase the line spacing (also called leading) to at least 120% of the font size.

To do this in Word:

Line Spacing in Microsoft Word

  1. In the menubar, go to Format and select Paragraph.
  2. In the pulldown under Line Spacing, choose Exactly and set the line spacing to 14 points.

Our example résumé currently uses Times New Roman set at a size/line spacing of 11pt/13pt. Let’s change it to Georgia with a size/line spacing of 10pt/14pt.

Here’s the full page:

résumé after setting typeface, size, and leading

If you can’t stand Georgia and aren’t worried about on-screen legibility, feel free to choose another appropriate typeface.

2. Remove extra indentations

Next, reduce the number of indentations. Better yet, take them all out. While useful in outlines, too many indentations in a résumé will cause your eyes to jump all over the page, destroying page harmony. The goal is to have all text align to each other.

After reducing indentations, also hang your bullets.

In Word:

Hanging Bullets in Microsoft Word

  1. Replace any spaces after a bullet with a tab character.
  2. Select the bulleted list.
  3. If you don’t see the horizontal ruler, go to the View menu and select Ruler.
  4. On the ruler, drag the First Line Indent marker to left by 1/8th of an inch.

Here’s a detail showing the résumé before and after removing indentation:

Remove indentations detail

To align all the cities and dates on the right, use tabs.

Remove indentations full

Already, you can see a huge improvement.

Also notice that the top margin is now reduced to 0.5 inches. This helps compensate for the additional line spacing in step 1.

3. Make it easy to skim

To make the résumé skimmable, you have to create a distinct typographic hierarchy. By typographic hierarchy, we mean Ellen Lupton’s definition from Thinking With Type:

A typographic hierarchy expresses an organizational system for content, emphasizing some data and diminishing others. A hierarchy helps readers scan a text, knowing where to enter and exit and how to pick and choose among its offerings.

Our example résumé already uses bolds and italics to highlight important information such as names and job titles. If you aren’t using them, set them now.

The headings for the major sections, however, don’t stick out enough. Even with “Education”, “Legal Experience”, and “Skills and Certifications” underlined and set in bold, they look too close to the job titles.

To make these section headings more distinct, use horizontal rules above and below each section heading.

In Word, select the section heading and go to Format in the menubar. From here, you’ll make changes in Paragraph, Font, and Borders and Shading.

Paragraph

Paragraph adjustment

  1. In the pulldown under Line Spacing, choose Exactly if it’s not already chosen, and set the line spacing to 16pt.
  2. Under Spacing, set the Before field to 6pt and the After field to 8pt.

Font

Font adjustment

  1. Select the Character Spacing tab.
  2. For Position, choose Raised from the pulldown and type “1pt” in the field.

Borders and Shading

Adding borders

  1. Select the Borders tab
  2. Under Setting, select Custom
  3. For Style, select a solid line. For Color, choose black. For Width, choose “3/4″.
  4. In the preview area, click the Top Border icon to the left of preview image.
  5. To add a bottom border, repeat step 3 using grey for Color, and “1/4″ for Weight.
  6. In the preview area, click the Bottom Border icon to the left of preview image.

Here’s a detail of the difference:

Horizontal rules detail

And now the full page:

Typographic Hierarchy

To give more emphasis to job descriptions and responsibilities, deemphasize the cities and dates by setting them in grey.

4. Apply typographic detailing

Our résumé makeover is almost done, but it needs some finishing touches:

Use smart quotes

Never ever use inch and foot marks (straight quotes) as quotation marks and apostrophes. They should always be curly. Microsoft Word has automatic curly quotes turned on by default. If not:

  1. In the menubar, go to Tools and choose AutoCorrect.
  2. Click the AutoFormat As You Type tab.
  3. Under Replace as you type, click the checkbox next to “Straight quotes” with “smart quotes”.

Space out text set in ALL CAPS

In general, avoid setting type in ALL CAPS. Because the letters start to look the same, it’s harder to read. In small doses, text in ALL CAPS is acceptable if you space out the letters.

The extra spacing between letters help makes each letter more distinct and readable:

Character spacing

In Word:

  1. Select the text set in ALL CAPS.
  2. In the menubar, go to Format and choose Font.
  3. Select the *Character Spacing** tab.
  4. In the Spacing pulldown, choose “Expanded” and type in “2pt” in the field.

Separate durations of time with en dashes

Durations of time such as “9–5″, “Monday–Friday”, and “October 5–December 31″ should always be separated by en dashes, not hyphens.

On the Mac, press Option-Dash to create an en dash. On a PC, hold down the Alt key and press 0150.

Adjust spacing in phone numbers

The space after the closing parenthesis in a phone number is often too wide. To reduce this, select the space and change its font size in half. So if the rest of the text is 10pt, change it to 5pt.

The final résumé

After adding the finishing touches, here’s the final résumé:

Final résumé

No rules are set in stone, so feel free to experiment. Just do so judiciously. You can find additional guidance here:

Remember don’t hesitate to post additional résumé tips in the comments!

If you enjoyed this post, you should follow me on twitter here.

114 Comments

  • Mirko

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    12:14 pm

    Very well written, quite simple but with a great final look. The end result is actually much easier to skim, people that get tons of applications will appreciate such a document.

  • Mattias

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    2:37 pm

    I dont use MSWord at home, but still- the final result was very nice. Looking forward to testing this in OOo or perhaps in TeX…

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Tyler

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    3:43 pm

    I like your suggestions, but the bullet points sticking out looks unfinished to me. In general, bulleted lists should be indented so the left edge of the bullet lines up with the left edge of the text.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    3:48 pm

    Hey Tyler, I think there’s much debate over whether or not to hang bullets. My preference is to hang bullets, because then the type lines up, creating less disruption.

  • Abby

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    4:02 pm

    I really like the detailed description you have here. I’ve taken my resume out and tried applying these tips. I’m using Windows, not Mac. All of the suggestions work except for one. I’m having trouble making the lines above and below the headers different widths. Got any ideas?

  • Chanpory

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    4:17 pm

    Hi Abby, indeed that is the trickiest part. Unfortunately, I’m on a Mac and don’t have MS word for the PC. Can anyone else lend a hand? Much thanks!

  • David

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    5:36 pm

    Abby, I struggled with the same thing. Go to Format -> Borders and Shading -> Borders tab. Make sure that Setting: is set to Custom and that all the buttons on the preview are deselected (so there should be no lines visible on the preview). Select your style, in this case solid line, then your color, then the width. Then click on the diagram once where you want that type of line to appear (on the top for example). Now your first line is set. Then change the style, color, and width for your second line and click on the diagram where you want that line to appear (on the bottom for example). Click OK and your changes should be in the document. I did this with Office XP and 2003.

  • Kman

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    5:42 pm

    There are some really nice tips here. You should submit this article to Digg.

  • Ryan

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    6:14 pm

    Great tips Chanpory! And the detailed explaination and images make it downright fantastic. I’ll be sending some of my visitors from PharmBoard.com here immediately. They’ll love this.

  • Prue

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    6:15 pm

    Great post. I’m just starting to apply for grad positions and I’ll be updating me resume with these tips asap.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    6:26 pm

    @Kman, I submitted the story to Digg, and it was starting to get enough Diggs to go on the front page. But it looks like Digg just removed the story from the Upcoming Stories list and their search results. Someone must have “buried” the story. Oh well, such is life.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    6:35 pm

    Digg just emailed to explain why it was removed:

    “That story was reported as lame and subsequently removed by the digg community.”

  • Greg

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    7:07 pm

    I have no intention of leaving my job anytime soon. But this article made me want to start looking for a new one, if only as an excuse to redo my resume. Great job!

  • miguel

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    7:33 pm

    mm nice, but rather take a sample of my work on a dvd you know, but this is useful. Also N E V E R I mean never use comic sans, or colors in the resumé, girls we know you are a gal by the name there is no point adding pink and rainbow colors all around every where. You know how many resumés we have not read jsut casue of that? At least 3 a month. And we are a small company, now imagine big corporations. But the point is thats a good article.

  • Kim Siever

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    8:27 pm

    If it’s any consolation, I don’t think it’s lame at all. It’s very useful.

  • germ

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    8:36 pm

    Sorry, but the bullets outside the text area do not look right to me.

    I wrote my resume with LaTeX. It blows anything done in Word away. And it’s free.

    In this specific case, there is still something not quite right IMHO: It looks too busy and heavy. Try reducing the size of the text one or two points, it should look much better. The second horizontal rule below the titles does not look too good, either. Expanded character spacing is ugly.

  • Kim Siever

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    8:39 pm

    This has to be the one of the best resume designs I have ever seen.

  • gazard

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    8:50 pm

    Great tips! Now I have a prettier resume. Thanks!

  • ac

    gravatarOct 24, 2006
    11:27 pm

    Georgia was also designed for screen by Matthew Carter for Microsoft. It is a HUGE improvement and a great typeface but if your looking for old style, serif numbers for print you could use Garamond or Sabon (an updated Garamond). Both have the old style numbers in their glyphs that you can use.

  • Sarit

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    12:04 am

    This looks great. I’m going to give it a tryexcept my resume is in Hebrew so it’ll be written right-to-left ;)

  • Kevin Schultz

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    12:16 am

    Would you be willing and able to post a sample file of the finished document?

  • Paul

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    12:22 am

    This is an excellent tutorial. Thank you for taking the time to write it up!

  • Jeroen Sangers

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    12:38 am

    Instead of having to select each title or text one by one and change the paragraph or font settings, it is a lot easier to change the properties of the used style. Changes to the style will be applied to all occurences of that style in the whole document, and will also be used for future additions.

  • Roy

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    12:45 am

    I have just graduated from my degree and this resume lesson comes in really handy! Thank You for sharing your tips.

  • Johan Tibell

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    1:17 am

    Nice article. Just wanted to give you a heads up on that the “Erik’s Typo Tips” link at the end is broken.

  • Kevin Schultz

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    1:35 am

    Nit-picky warning:

    On Windows XP Character Map lists em-dash as Alt+0151 and en-dash as Alt+0150.

  • Tristan

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    2:11 am

    Thanks you very much, thats very neat … i ll let you know whether i get the job ..

  • Neil Courtis

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    3:58 am

    This is just what blogs should do. Excellent idea, excellently realised. Fantastic post.

    Neil

  • Rob

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    4:07 am

    Your version does look ten times better! Thanks for the tips and helpful screen shots. However, I stopped using en dashs and Smart quotes because sometimes when other people opened my resume they got junk characters for anything except the basic character set. Same thing with accented letters. Also, when I would cut and paste my resume into an online job application, I got the same trouble with the special characters. Frustrating because those little touches do help the appearance. Maybe it’s best to have 2 versions- 1 for printing and 1 as plain text. Thanks for the great article.

  • Larry

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    6:30 am

    Wow. Wish this was a template to download (for us lazy people in the audience) :)

  • Kapil

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    6:33 am

    Supporting Rob’s comment. Its most advisable to have your resume prepared in a few common formats. Word, PDF and txt file (ASCII format). I always prefer sending out my resume in PDF format – for easy reading and printing.

  • Abby

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    7:36 am

    I always send out PDF’s as well. I’m really enjoying this. And thanks so much, David, for converting this into Windows terms. I’ll give it a try later today.

  • Abi

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    7:43 am

    Wow, what a terrifically useful post. Thanks for making the steps so easy to follow and so well illustrated. Good luck on your 9rules entry!

  • Chanpory

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    7:50 am

    Hey everyone, thanks for the comments! I’ve corrected the Windows en-dash key command, as well as the link to Erik’s Typo Tips. I’ll see if I can get a template of the final résumé up tonight!

  • Josh

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    8:37 am

    Can you make this a template for us students? Thanks!

  • J David

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    8:53 am

    Great tips. I just took a class about getting a job and there was a lecture about resumes and your tips line up pretty well with what I learned. Excellent advice!

  • Sarit

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    8:58 am

    Here it is in Hebrew! :) http://thumbq.com/thumb/show?WUMfc1

  • Doug

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    9:07 am

    I’d also like it to be a downloadable template?

  • Positivity Blog

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    9:50 am

    Excellent post. It really looks a lot better. I´ll update my resume later tonight using your tips.

  • Gigi

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    9:55 am

    I notice that you’ve left something out which many career counselors say is a critical part of any resume — a brief summary section underneath the contact information. This is a brief statement — no more than a couple of sentences — which encapsulates the applicant’s experiences, strengths, and goals. I also find that it saves a little space on the page to put each employer’s city and state in plain text right next to the employer’s name in bold small caps, with the date of the employment directly across on the right margin and the title under the employer’s name on the line below. It also makes the resume slightly easier to read since the eye only needs to go across the page once to the dates rather than twice in your model to get both dates and locations.

  • Terri

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    10:22 am

    @miguel I slightly disagree with your statement about not using colors. As a recent grad from an Art School, we designed two resumes; a creative one, and a standard one. My standard one is black and grey and uses a lot of the techniques in this article. Where as my creative resume has a hit of color. Not everything is pink, purple and rainbow. The use of color is not to say “Hey I’m a girl,” It’s more of a, “Look how effectively I can use color on something that is typically black, white and serif.” Some jobs I’d apply for would never know the creative version of my resume existed, but for jobs where I have a contact at the company and I know it’s a fun, laid back, we play ping-pong at lunch and wear jeans every day kind-of a place they’d most likely get my creative resume.

    And as for Gigi’s comment about a brief summary, that sounds like something that is better suited for a cover letter where you would tailor your summary of your skills and goals around the job you’d perform if you were hired for the position.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    10:29 am

    Terri, I agree with you about colors. While I think it generally should be avoided, color that clarifies the résumé’s hiearchy can be quite useful. As Greg points out it should not be decorative.

    Gigi, you’re right about the omission of an “Objective” section in the résumé. I think there’s debate about how useful or not this should be included. It certainly can be added easily to example résumé shown in the post. I do agree with Terri about the use of a cover letter to summary relevant skills and goals.

  • Wheels

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    12:12 pm

    Absolutely never hang the bullets! It screams unprofessional and will lead potential employers to skip this resume in a pile of indented bulleted resumes

  • Abby

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    12:18 pm

    Rats. I tried David’s suggestion, and it didn’t work for me. :( I’m still getting the same width of line above and below.

  • Linda

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    12:35 pm

    Looks great. Is there a template for it?

  • Andy H.

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    3:33 pm

    Couple of comments. Wonderful tutorial that produces great results. I also add a running header for page 2 that has my name, e-mail address and phone number in case the pages get separated. I’ll save in .doc, .pdf, .rtf and .txt. Each has a use for different Website etc.

  • David Perry

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    5:36 pm

    That resume sucked! Unless of course you want to bore someone to death which it appears most resume writes excel at. Listen carefully it’s not just the layout it’s the content. For starters, Education goes LAST.

    People, resumes are a sales tool and every salesman knows you lead with your best foot. If it’s your education… you got problems.

    Sure, if I was looking to fill an opening then yes the resume might pass the 5 second test because it flows nicely.

    But if I wasn’t looking or you as a candidate where trying to find a job in the “hidden job market” or get me to create one just for you [the best solution] AND you where trying to entice me to read it – forget about it.

    Job hunters need to understand that one resume does not fit all jobs nor does pone resume style. Passing this off as a good or great resume is criminal. It’s bland and boring. You want to swim in a sea of mediocrity — fine.

    Want to stand out? Different story. Give me your accomplishments. Get me excited about what you could possibly do for my company. Be bold. Don’t tell me how creative you are… show me. If you’d like a link to a sound example of what I’m talking about BEFORE you scold me then follow this link and listen to this podcast. http://tinyurl.com/ymj2mu

    David Perry

  • RSK

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    5:52 pm

    i agree with dave perry.

    frankly, between the original and the final, i think the original is much better. generic and boring, yes. but not choppy, and ugly, with bullets hanging everywhere.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    5:55 pm

    David, I agree with you that content is important. But this post is not about resumé writing. There are enough resumé writing books and sites out there already.

    The example résumé puts the education first because some positions will care most about school history. In this case, the applicant is currently a law student applying for student jobs and internships. Law firms, in particular, place the most emphasis on education when hiring students and fresh graduates. The school you went to is what gets you in the door.

    As with anything, no rules are set in stone. They often have to be adjusted depending on the context

    Thanks so much for your politeness, and for trying ever so hard to not insult our readers and friends. Your company must be a fantastic place to work for.

    Chanpory

  • David Perry

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    6:11 pm

    Chanpory

    Polite? Do you think it’s polite when the manager who receives this resume throws it in the trash? Job hunting – especially by new grads is not about being polite it’s about getting to the point, adding value and not wasting people’s time. Your previous advice about not using color is wrong. No offense but it hearkens back to the late 60′s and 70′s.

    As for this resume being ideal for a student. Please be assured that the actual student gets the job – not their resume. the resume gets them the invitation. If they all look the same then it’s a crap shoot. I do enough on-campus interviews across America to assure you that looking like every other “student” is not an advantage. Beige is another shade of vanilla. Promoting this type of end product is akin to writing another “how to write a resume” book that I suspect you too are tired of reading.

    If you want to suggest that people give their resumes a face lift then IMHO start with suggesting they add some meat to it. Reformatting the same “stuff” won’t do it.

    Busy people need to “get it” right away and this resume doesn’t make me do that. It’s the content first and the delivery a close second but frankly to get anyone to read if it must look compelling. It must make the reader drop what ever else their doing and read it AND then pick up the phone and call because the JUST have to met you.

    And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Times Roman. In fact it’s easier for older people to read.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    6:49 pm

    David… for someone who purports to care most about content, you clearly didn’t read the post nor the comments very well. First, I don’t believe there is an inherently right or wrong way to create a résumé, and at the end of the post I suggest that judicious experimentation is good.

    1\. As mentioned, I believe color can be used sparingly to clarify the structure of a document. I still stand by not using a rainbow of colors to decorate a document. As you mentioned, this is not the 60s and 70s disco acid trip era. It’s odd that you imply color would attract your attention, when you say you care most about the content or the “meat.” Wouldn’t excessive color and other decoration overshadow the content?

    2\. I don’t believe I’ve proposed this résumé as the ideal for students. You are conflating my words. The example résumé, as all résumés should be, is tailored for a specific context. In this case, it’s law firms which care most about which school you came went to. Of course, some law firms may not care at all if you went to Yale or an internet school. If the context was your company for example, Dave, then the résumé would obviously need to be tailored for your eyes. I’d hate to see that however.

    3\. The reasons for why Times New Roman is not the best typeface is clear in the post. It doesn’t read well in on-screen. And studies have shown this. Even Microsoft is abandoning the typeface in their new operating systems and software. In fact, Georgia’s larger x-height makes it easier for older people to read.

    4\. Obviously, the person matters more than the résumé. The résumé should be considere part of a larger package. If I was hiring someone, I’d also look at how respectful they are and if they listen carefully, etc.

    5\. I’d love to hear specifically how a résumé would “look compelling” to you. What would make you call someone? As mentioned in the post, suggestions are welcomed. However, grand declarations of right and wrong without examples aren’t very useful.

    I’m glad you disagree and don’t like this résumé, but I had hoped you had given more specific pointers as to what you do look for in résumé (both in form & content) rather than making grand generalizations that don’t help any of our readers.

    To our readers, I apologize if I sound overly annoyed, then so be it. To be frank, nothing angers me more than people who insult our community readers and friends‖people who are trying hard to improve themselves and their lives.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    7:35 pm

    Okay, I’ve calmed down. To everyone who wanted a template to get started, I’ve updated the post with a downloadable Word doc. Check it out!

    Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  • David Perry

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    7:42 pm

    Chanpory,

    At the beginning of your post you say, “Even if you can’t hire a fancy designer and are stuck with Microsoft Word, a few tweaks can turn your blasé résumé into an elegant and functional showpiece.”

    I agree. A few tweaks can turn your blase resume into an elegant and functional showpiece. My mistake. I thought you where holding out the promise that your suggestions would if followed would in turn help a job seeker move their resume to the top of the pile [my interpretation of showpiece].

    Obviously I misinterpreted your intentions. I thought you wanted to actually give guidance to people who where writing resumes and not just show people how smart you where.

    I know your intentions are honorable but your end product is not more elegant for starters and in fact is harder on the eyes in my opinion. I am objecting to your advice BECAUSE a new grad make actually take the advice for face value and harm their chances to land an interview. To imply that the simple changes you suggested will work to advance a job-seeker’s quest is wrong.

    If it’s possible to up load an example to your blog which the whole community can then debate let me know how and I’ll send you a before and after that’ll aptly demonstrate what I believe you wanted to accomplish. The design work you do could be a great asset to your readers if we explore some resume misconceptions and stretch the boundaries.

    What do you say?

    I’m open for the criticism. Like you I have nothing to gain here. Hopefully the end product will illustrate good design practices and help job-seekers which is what I believe you sincerely want to do. I just happened to have this post sent to me for comment by a colleague. You’re not under attack. Perhaps I’m just being too much of a crotchety old CEO tonight.

    Insulting your community of readers is/was not my intent. Nor do I wish to insult you.

    David Perry Perry-Martel International Inc. http://www.perrymartel.com http://www.gm4jh.com

  • A

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    8:02 pm

    Chanpory, thanks for the great article as well as the template. A very good resource I plan to pass along.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    8:19 pm

    Dave, thanks for your reply. I just want to say again that this post was not about writing résumés, but about improving the design of one. The two are indeed connected, but I want to reiterate that distinction.

    Feel free to post a link in the comments as to what you’d consider a show-stopping and compellingly designed résumé.

    If you stand by it, I’d love to see a post on your own Guerilla Job Hunting blog with instructions. I think this would actually be helpful by offer a competing viewpoint, and another model for job hunters to look at.

    It’s a late night for both of us. Perhaps a night’s rest will put us both in better moods.

  • Chris Y.

    gravatarOct 26, 2006
    12:43 am

    Reading through the comments, it seems that Mister Perry may have been reading another post all together. It’s very clear that this blog posting was meant to provide a few pointers to improve the visual appeal to an existing resume when limited to particular types of software like Word. Each tip in the posting has provided direction, with technical instruction on how to execute a particular look. All these tips were suggestions, not rules, to aid in legibility. Because really, are you saying that it’s wrong to use en dashes instead of hyphens when separating dates? Or is this short of a cry for attention to bring folks to your job hunting sites?

    I’d like to add another tip to this list of tips that I think some might consider using. Spellcheck in Word is a very useful tool ‖ it not only catches typos and commonly misspelled/misused words, but also run on sentences, incomplete sentences and other variations of poor grammar. You can find this function in Word in the File Menu under Tools:Spelling & Grammar…

  • PHP-For-Beginners

    gravatarOct 26, 2006
    12:55 am

    What about a little color????

    Nice template but needs some life!!

  • Chrome

    gravatarOct 26, 2006
    2:19 am

    Dave …. “but frankly to get anyone to read if it must look compelling.” … hmmm …. well …

    Looking at your website I’d say you’ve got a good workload ahead of you. Talk about confusing typefaces, weird colours and random element positioning — a nightmare.

    You really shouldn’t be talking about layout or design before you get that mess sorted out.

  • Tanya S.

    gravatarOct 26, 2006
    8:04 am

    As one who hires people, and thus has to look at resumes, I like the format of this one. It’s nice to look at. I agree with David Perry that content is vital (and since I hire technical writers, spelling errors will keep you from getting an interview with me, even if you have excellent experience), but the example above is about layout, not content. Resumes with color or extravagence are annoying. Don’t do it, people (possible exception for very creative jobs, but more likely the resume should be basic and your work samples should illustrate your creativity). I don’t mind resumes that look alike and have never understood the desire to do wild and different things to make the format of your resume stand out. The resume should be simple and clear, thus allowing your content (which does hopefully stand out; that’s what gets you an interview) to speak for you. If your content is hidden behind an attempt to make your format exciting and interesting, I might pass you by because I’m too distracted by the pretty (and annoying) colors or whatever to notice that, hey, you have relevant experience.

    In other words, I really like this format and agree it is basic but clear and easy to look at.

  • Abby

    gravatarOct 26, 2006
    8:24 am

    I can’t believe this has turned into such a heated battle!! I am actually not in business. I am a psychologist, so what I’m writing is more of a curriculum vita than a resume. Education must ALWAYS go first, no matter what. In my field, education really does matter the most. Right now, I’m trying to decide whether my presentations and publications should remain in typical APA formatting, with a hanging indent, or if I should make them match the rest of the document. I’m also trying to work out how to include awards, etc. I like the format quite a bit, no matter what “Mr Business” thinks.

  • Nadja

    gravatarOct 26, 2006
    9:52 am

    Wow ! Great job. I was looking for different font from Times New Roman or Arial, I’ve tried many and finally, I chose Bookman Old Style. I have already updated my resume, before I read you. But I’ll keep in mind your tips and I’ll probably do a face lift. Thank you.

  • Winlove

    gravatarOct 26, 2006
    5:26 pm

    Thanks for the tips, I would really give my resume a face lift! ;)

  • Mustafa

    gravatarOct 26, 2006
    5:45 pm

    Thanks for posting this, it couldn’t have been more timely. I just decided to apply for a job, and used your advice to change my resume from one that looks like it was crammed together by an engineer to one that looks like it was done by an experienced designer. Gracias!

  • Hesbon Ongira

    gravatarOct 26, 2006
    10:19 pm

    This is a good tool for everyone who wants to make an impression. Danke!

  • redteam

    gravatarOct 27, 2006
    3:13 am

    Chanpory, Thank you for this post! The end product looks great. I’m going to give this a shot right now.

    David Perry, I’m very interested in what you have to say about resumes and what they should look like. You’re right, there are a lot of boring resumes out there. I’ve tried looking at a few for some kind of inspiration and I haven’t found anything good. Please show us something interesting and colorful.

  • Technot

    gravatarOct 27, 2006
    6:55 am

    Hi Chanpory. Great job on the resume. Sure, it can’t be all things to all people. If ANYBODY has the magic formula for getting any hiring entity to pick you over everyone else, every time, I’d love to see it!

    That said, I’m sorry you got sucked into a conversation with David Perry. Yes, he makes some important points that everyone should think about, but by his second reply he was still responding with petulant sarcasm. People find it hard to learn when they’re being yelled at or scolded.

    Thanks.

  • Jack

    gravatarOct 27, 2006
    8:12 am

    David Perry is an ass, plain and simple. I certainly don’t know him, and I’m sure he must be excellent promoting himself and whatever else he may do professionally, but his unprovoked attacks on the author of this helpful little article turn my stomach.

    This article never purported to be the final word on resume creation. It’s just a few simple tips on making a resume more appealing visually using simple tools (Word) without the services of a professional designer. Mission accomplished! Thank you, Chanpory!

    Take it for what it’s worth. Like most free advice and other information you find on the Internet, it should be viewed cautiously and balanced against your own experience and judgment. We call that critical thinking. If you don’t agree with Chanpory, feel free to disregard the advice. If it makes some sense, incorporate as much of it as you want in your resume. Either way, at least it made you think about your resume design, and that in itself is a worthwhile activity even if you don’t change a thing.

    As for Mr. Perry, I was mildly curious about his company’s services after his first post, but after his other posts I couldn’t care less. Aside from his reckless and combative behavior and his obvious propensity to misinterpret things to justify picking a fight, I find his total lack of courtesy towards a fellow author completely unprofessional. Definitely not the image I want my company to project.

  • Abby

    gravatarOct 27, 2006
    8:37 am

    His company does describe itself as “Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters”. I’m not sure I’m ready for that kind of EXTREME job hunting. I’ll take the old-fashioned way, thank you very much!

  • Martin-Ö°ric

    gravatarOct 27, 2006
    1:38 pm

    Here, as a Serif type, I’ve come to prefer the Gentium free font published by SIL. It was especially designed for maximum readability and for supporting the multitude of alphabets used by languages of the planet. As a Sans-Serif type, I like the Déja Vu variant of the Bitstream Vera font, especially in its condensed variant. Both fonts are installed by default on a growing number of desktop environments.

  • Anne

    gravatarOct 28, 2006
    1:02 am

    I’m a lawyer and part of my role is to deal with department recruitment – as a resume for a lawyer, the updated version is far, far, more likely to get my attention – it suggests the individual has actually thought about presentation, as well as content. Whilst law is all about content, the client often has to be able to read that content evenutally … as do other lawyers.

    Some of the documents (not resumes) produced by lawyers could do with a similar update! (note: extreme understatement. More like 99% of all legal templates could do with a readability overhaul).

  • Miranda

    gravatarOct 28, 2006
    2:55 am

    Every time I’ve been asked for a resume, I’ve been asked for a hard copy.

    Georgia is a screen font. It looks great if your resume is only going to be viewed onscreen, but for printing, you can do a lot better.

    That said, if you expect a resume to be viewed onscreen, it should probably be in the body of an email, where all this stuff is more or less moot. A lot of people won’t even open a resume sent as an attachment. Some such resumes are bounced by the company’s email system as spam before ever reaching the person who’s supposed to be reading it.

    But, elements of this tutorial used with a different font might make for a nice hard-copy resume.

  • PohEe.com

    gravatarOct 29, 2006
    5:37 am

    Great Post. I will recommend to Monster.com to include it as a tips for Job Seeker. Thanks.

  • Gigi

    gravatarOct 29, 2006
    9:32 am

    Just as a footnote to my previous comment — and to address Chanpory’s and Terri’s remarks– I realized after posting that I neglected to mention the fact (although I had intended to include it) that I’ve spent most of the past ten years working as a recruiter. The average recruiter or human resources professional spends less than ten seconds looking at a resume, so I don’t even want to contemplate how many I’ve looked at in that stretch of time! While I can see where you’re coming from with regard to a summary statement on a resume seeming redundant — that a cover letter would seem the more appropriate place for this — I’ve heard more than one career counselor advocate using them, and I can think of at least three possible reasons for this.

    One: a resume which contains a summary statement is an indication that the candidate is most likely not simply churning out resumes to any job they might be willing to take and/or be remotely qualified for. From what I’ve heard through the human resources grapevine, you’d be surprised how many people submit their resume to job postings despite the fact that they clearly aren’t qualified, giving the impression that they haven’t even really bothered to read the requirements for the job — ironically, this smacks of desperation and at the same time makes it seem as if they don’t really take the job or the employer seriously. While you may actually be submitting exactly the same resume for each job application, it’s best not to make this apparent — and a summary statement can help disguise this (provided, of course, that your summary statement actually has something to do with the job in question!)

    Two: while it’s always highly advisable to include a cover letter with your resume, suppose that they should on the off chance become separated? Things like that do happen. Obviously, one would hope that the person who receives your resume is at least minimally organized so that this is relatively unlikely to happen — and the increasing use of electronic resume submission is making this even less likely — but most recruiters in my experience still find it helpful to work with hard-copy versions, even of resumes submitted electronicall. Without a summary statement, it may not be as clear which position the resume was submitted for if it should happen to become separated from its cover letter — especially since recruiters are often working to fill more than one position. Also, contrary to popular belief, recruiters often do keep files and/or databases of previous applicants for potential consideration in future — and the summary statement can be helpful in terms of suggesting what kind of positions might be a good fit for this person in future, even if there are no suitable openings at the moment.

    Three: since recruiters spend so little time looking at each individual resume, a summary statement is yet another way of setting your resume apart from the herd since it’s not a detail that everyone thinks to include. Just as in the case with layout and appearance, it shows that you’ve put that little bit of extra thought and time into your efforts.

  • Eadwacer

    gravatarOct 29, 2006
    6:54 pm

    Remember that there’s a difference between Objective and Summary. An Objective statement at the top tells what I am seeking from a job; a Summary is a compact statement of qualifications the employer might find useful. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide which the employer might find more useful.

  • seo’brien

    gravatarOct 30, 2006
    4:48 pm

    Abby, in regard to your post about this being a heated battle, Education should not always be at the top. I am in business, specifically an emerging business (the internet) where your education has little bearing on your ability. Schools don’t teach what we do, Experience rules; further, 15-20 years into ones career, you education is of even less significance as is what you’ve been doing for the last 20 years. As one who hires, I skim past education (to return to it) because I screen by knowing what they’ve done and where they’ve been. Putting education is a smart move for candidates who show me that they know this and give me the information that matters first.

  • Abby

    gravatarOct 30, 2006
    8:49 pm

    I know it doesn’t always need to be at the top. I just meant that for some fields (especially academia), it really should go first.

  • Stephanie Miller

    gravatarNov 2, 2006
    11:05 am

    The typography tips are great! I read many resumes and CV’s and nearly everyone could benefit from these suggestions. Being able to quickly scan a resume and have your eyes land on key information will make the difference for getting your resume read and passed on.

    As for content, make it easy to understand what you do and where you have done it. Don’t forget to explain the nature and business of the companies where you have worked. Do not assume that the folks reading your CV know what you do, explain it, briefly, but do explain it.

    Summary statements are essential for executives and management level professionals. Objective statements are not essential, but very helpful for junior folks and career changers. Thanks for the advice!

  • Sankar Anand

    gravatarNov 4, 2006
    6:19 am

    Thanks for the uploaded final resume, its easy to edit…

  • mojotek

    gravatarNov 7, 2006
    12:35 pm

    I used this on my resume and it looks much better. Thank you for the specific tutorial. Your right up is much more effective than just a few tips bulleted in a paragraph.

  • Abby

    gravatarNov 7, 2006
    12:37 pm

    OK, I’ve now printed it out on nice paper and on regular paper, and I’m not as convinced about the greyscale. I think it needs to be a little bit darker to look nice. Just my impression.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarNov 7, 2006
    9:15 pm

    Hey Abby, feel free to test out the right shade of grey. Some printers will print it lighter or darker than others. Thanks for testing it out!

  • Pious Cant

    gravatarNov 10, 2006
    8:49 pm

    Although this appears to be pretty basic information, and although I’ve done about a million resumes for myself (not the slightest exaggeration), I applied your tips and it worked. My resume looks much clearer and more succinct. The words don’t just hang on the page – they’re grounded and easy to read through.

    Thanks for your help.

  • Ryan

    gravatarNov 11, 2006
    8:34 pm

    it great, nice to look at. will arrange, simple but presentable.

    thanks

  • Preissuchmaschine

    gravatarNov 15, 2006
    2:47 pm

    Hi, I looks also ok under Open Office 2.0 on Linux Machine. Thank you for great sample. Adam

  • Sharon Cousins

    gravatarNov 16, 2006
    5:27 am

    Hi,

    I found this “post” through a newsletter by a recruiter called Edmen in Australia. I have read all of the comments listed and as a resume writer with a 90-95% win rate in interviews or jobs for clients, I thought I would give you my tips for a resume that gets results:

    1) Layout and Content essential – add Job Titles as headings at top: “Director ~ OH&S ~ Office Management” 2) Spellcheck should be standard procedure 3) Ensure resume is written in third person & past tense for previous jobs 4) Opening statement should include brief profile and
    objective (written in paragraph format & untitled) 5) Recommend skills listing first 6) Possibly bullet point responsibilities (not hang) 7) Use “action words” first e.g. “Supervised, managed, produced, performed, conducted etc.” for duties (look up websites & search occupations for duties) 8) Use achievements (tick instead of bullet point)- explain what the problem was, what you did & outcome 9) Add quote (in italics) ie good reference statement 10)Generally wouldn’t use colour or photographs – it takes too long to download on email. 11)Call before emailing resume to see if employer or recruiter wants resume emailed via attachment or in body of email. If in body,do test email to yourself and amend margins. Save a copy for future emails. 12) Educ., Additional Info (interests) & referees last

    Please can someone tell me how to download the template as I love the layout & wouldn’t mind using it to help me.

    Thank you.

    Sharon Cousins of Ready Resumes http://www.freewebs.com/readyresumes/

  • Stijn Vogels

    gravatarNov 16, 2006
    7:21 am

    @ Sharon: linky.

  • Sharon Cousins

    gravatarNov 17, 2006
    3:33 am

    Hi Stijn,

    Thanks for the link. I’ve now done a resume for “universal users” using the great tips you provided. The layout is slightly different, but it works for clients of mine (I’m a resume writer). The new universal resume has been sent to you via email on a word document. Please can you add it onto this site/post for all to see. Everyone is welcome to use it for FREE.

    By the way, the word resume needs to have accents over both “e’s”. Go to “Insert, then Symbol & click. Put in the font you want e.g. Georgia or a new favourite is “Palatino Lynotype” & go to either the CAPITAL E or small e with the accent over it. Click on the “E” or “e” with the symbol over it and click “Insert” & then “Close” – voila.

    Regards,

    Sharon Cousins t/as Ready Resumes Wollongong, Australia http://www.freewebs.com/readyresumes/

  • Sharon Cousins

    gravatarNov 17, 2006
    5:32 am

    Hi Everyone,

    For those who are interested in seeing the “Universal Resume” go to http://www.freewebs.com/readyresumes/ and click onto the page known as “Universal Resume Sample” and click on link. I would love to hear any comments (good or bad) about what you think of it. It is useful for Australia & UK & just needs reducing for USA purposes. The resume layout has been created using the template from this post & with my own resume writing knowledge. It’s FREE for everyone.

    Rgds,

    Sharon Cousins t/as Ready Resumes Wollongong Australia

  • Dave the angrybulldog

    gravatarDec 1, 2006
    12:04 pm

    hey, as a job seeker this was very inspirational and very well written and designed. I have a tough time getting bogged down with directions so making them so simple and engaging really helped. Wish me luck and thanks so much. Great work!

  • James

    gravatarDec 6, 2006
    4:01 pm

    I think it gave my resume a nice sophisticated look. I followed the instructions step by step and was dismayed to see the template at the bottom of the page! As Adam Sandler would say: “INFORMATION THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN GOOD TO KNOW AN HOUR AGO!!!!” My mistake, but thanks so much for your advice, and following the tutorial helped me understand Word better! :)

  • Sharon Cousins

    gravatarDec 7, 2006
    4:20 am

    Hi Stijn,

    Further to James’ comment on 6th Dec., 2006, I agree that it would be more beneficial to have your resume template shown as a link at the top of this article/commentary.

    Also, please feel free to download my “Universal Resume Sample” from my website http://www.freewebs.com/readyresumes/ and use as a template at the top of this article, as a link too, for everyone to use.

    Regards,

    Sharon Cousins t/as Ready Resumes Wollongong, NSW Australia

  • Resume Builder

    gravatarDec 7, 2006
    8:56 am

    First of all I would like to say that this is a really good article and the tips are priceless. I would like to add however, that if a candidate is using a fucntional resume it might be difficult for the resume reader to match up the skills with job titles, orgaznization names etc. This makes the functional resume somewhat unpopular among employers. A resume builder useful tip to overcome this “content organization/design” problem, is to include the company name (and job title) in the “bullet” or description. for example: “Coordinated the logistics of setting up XYZ Inc regional locations which involved hiring and training of personnel”.
    Thank you and best regards

  • Stijn Vogels

    gravatarDec 8, 2006
    5:00 am

    @ Sharon Cousins (#): Sorry, no can do. I’m just a helpful commenter here.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarDec 11, 2006
    10:51 am

    Sharon and Stijn,

    I’ve moved the link to the template towards the top of the page. I’ve also posted Sharon’s variation.

    Remember, when setting time durations, such as 2001–2004. Use en-dashes in between the dates with NO spaces on either side of the dash. It’s easy to forget, and I should have been clearer in the article.

  • Iza

    gravatarJan 10, 2007
    11:27 am

    I believe this post has been helpful for those that are not too involved in design field and need a simple facelift of their resumes. I think one thing to remember is that you are selling yourself, you can put on a resume anything you want. There are no rules. There are however more and less tasteful ways of doing it. Please don’t forget that liking a resume is subjective just as it is liking a person that stands behind each resume.

  • bewerbung-downloaden.de

    gravatarJan 12, 2007
    4:18 am

    Your page is very useful. May I translate it in german?

  • Sam

    gravatarJan 25, 2007
    10:47 pm

    Thanks for the tips, Chanpory. I’m wondering what’s with the Latin in your resume template, haha.

  • Jessica

    gravatarJan 31, 2007
    3:48 am

    I greatly appreciated the tips like most others who commented.

    The only sticky issue (as someone previously brought up) – the hanging bullets really bother me. That might just be a pet peeve brought on by years of brainwashing in public schools where outlines with bullets + indentations were law. I do like how you have rid the résumé of indentations, but I also believe the résumé would be clearer if the bulleted lists were indented.

  • Kathleen

    gravatarJan 31, 2007
    9:50 am

    I have made each of your suggested changes and the results are beautiful. Thank you.

  • Felipe

    gravatarFeb 1, 2007
    11:11 am

    Great advice. One question though…why do you put the dates shaded lighter than the rest of the document? I think this looks strange.

  • Groovymarlin

    gravatarFeb 2, 2007
    9:29 am

    Thanks for this article. I just used the template you provided to update my own resume, with a few adjustments (like moving the education to the bottom and adding a section for technical skills) that are appropriate to my industry.

    I read the comments with amusement. Dave Perry has obviously moved on from this discussion (he must be busy out there guerilla marketing something to someone) but I did check out his linked websites: horrible. Further he recently is advertising a “resume makeover” that I think is just horrendous. Not surprisingly, it includes random groupings of typefaces, color, and the deadliest of sins, clip art! I had to laugh. I wonder how many naive job seekers have given their money to this blowhard.

    Anyway, love your blog, keep up the good work.

  • Dan

    gravatarFeb 9, 2007
    3:44 am

    I’ve just changed my wife resume based on your advice and looks great! Thanks.

  • Duncan

    gravatarFeb 13, 2007
    6:19 pm

    Excellent post on resume design. Have used the ideas on my resume and hopefully should go towards giving me an internship… thank you.

  • Tracy

    gravatarFeb 20, 2007
    11:24 am

    i’m applying for a part time job cuz i’m still in high school. you gave very good tips, thanks! wish me luck :)

  • John

    gravatarMar 13, 2007
    9:34 pm

    The en dash can also be made by ctrl + the minus key on the number pad. FYI – easier to remember than the 0150

  • Dee

    gravatarMar 15, 2007
    9:34 am

    I was just about to send my resume, but I’ll use the new template first. I think it’s good.

    Hey, Perry, better asking for forgiveness than for permission, ha? ;) I think you DID insult us by thinking we are unable to see how “terrible” this resume is and need your help to open our eyes. That we would just take the template and maybe not even change the name :D

  • duffGeiger

    gravatarMar 19, 2007
    2:48 pm

    I saw this article on Digg when it first came out and decided to use it to update my resume. Since then I’ve shown my new and improved resume to my wife, a couple co-workers, and a former boss. All of them have said that they don’t like the layout. I did get a little too wordy in my descriptions so perhaps that’s what they dislike but has anyone else received feedback from peers?

  • James

    gravatarApr 3, 2007
    8:39 am

    I am just starting another job search so when updating my resume I put it in this format and it worked very well. I changed the header a little just to make it smaller, but that was about it. My girlfriend saw it and thought it was so great she asked if I could help convert her resume. Her resume used to be 10pt font/Arial Narrow/.25″ margins completely filled with text so we were not sure if it would fit. Surprisingly it fits much better and provides much more white space on the page.

    Overall this article is excellent.

    It would be great if there was a cover letter template with the same formatting, but that may be asking for too much.

  • m

    gravatarApr 10, 2007
    7:11 pm

    You suggest Georgia does not print that well. I have access to a huge repository of high-grade fonts and I wonder if someone might be able to recommend a high quality font which is sleek on-screen and printed. Thanks y’all.

    Great stuff here btw, thanks for the help with my job search!

  • who cares

    gravatarApr 23, 2007
    2:11 pm

    sorry but wheels is intellectually challenged. bullets should always be hanging. if you want to do what’s right go and read typography books by ellen lupton, rob carter, jan tschichold, or wolfgang weingart. people are not going to skip over your resume because you did what is typographically correct.

  • Damien Jorgensen

    gravatarMay 14, 2007
    1:14 pm

    Excellent post, I wish the candiates which send me CVs would read this!

  • Art

    gravatarJun 7, 2007
    12:23 pm

    David Perry = Clown trying to pimp his book along with self-invented BS buzzwords.

    Great tips. This is about the visual design and how to make a crappy Word doc look better. I’ve forwarded this to family and friends and they thanked me.

  • Ritesh

    gravatarJun 18, 2007
    11:03 am

    this is incompete…with current market resume should have an OBJECTIVE.SKILLS should be above experience and EDUCATION should go to end

  • Chanpory

    gravatarJun 20, 2007
    11:49 am

    Ritesh,

    Again, this post is about the design, not the content of the résumé. The idea is that you should adapt the template for your needs.

    The example template is for a law student, in which case education is most important.

    I find the “objective” section a waste of space. No matter how you wordsmith it, isn’t the objective always to simply get a job?

    With over a 100 comments on this post, I think it’s time to close-off comments. I’m not sure much more can be said that hasn’t already been said.

    Thanks everyone!