Job Seekers: Should You “Design” Your Resume?

Posted August 13, 2013 by Guest Writer in Career Moves
If you’re sending out dozens of resumes with no reply, you’re not alone: This is the new normal in job hunting, and it leaves job seekers frustrated and hopeless. Seeking a way to stand out from the crowd of applicants, some have turned to companies that offer resume redesigns. These souped-up resumes often resemble infographics and are heavy on color, fonts and even graphics. These infographic resumes have gotten pushback from some industry experts, including Ask A Manager’s Alison Green and Brazen Careerist’s Erik Bowitz. Learn more about both sides of the issue then decide what’s right for you.


Image by Flickr user carter929

When to Use a Designed Resume

If you’re attending an upcoming conference, career fair or networking event where you hope to hand out personal information and resumes, a designed resume may work. In these instances, you’ll be handing the resume directly to professionals who will look it over. Especially at job fairs, hiring managers will be seeing hundreds of resumes, most featuring 12-point Times New Roman, carefully placed bullets and bold headers, notes Lifehacker. A designed resume that is organized, clear and consistent—for example, a resume you created using a modernist font and nonstandard bullets—can stand out without breaking the mold too much. A professionally designed resume with color and graphics can also impress.

If you work in creative fields such as graphic design, illustration or Web design, a designed resume makes sense for your field and offers you the chance to show off your skills. In these cases, you’re best off designing the resume yourself, since it’s part portfolio, too.

When to Avoid a Designed Resume

Think back to the last 20 or so job applications you completed. Did you email your application materials to the hiring manager or complete an online job application? If you primarily completed online job applications, then you may know that many websites don’t allow you to upload PDF or .docx files. There’s no point paying for a designed resume or spending time designing and formatting one yourself if you won’t be able to use it.

HR experts like Alison Green warn that employers may see a designed resume and think that your job experience, knowledge and skills cannot speak for themselves. Green advises writing a thoughtful cover letter, demonstrating real experience in your field through paid work, internships, volunteering or a combination of these, and showing enthusiasm for the position. That will help you stand out from the competition.

If you read the reasons above and you’re not sure whether it would be a good idea for you and your field, hold off. This is a new trend, and you can weigh public opinion on it before committing money to it. You may have another expense, such as an interview outfit or a professional portfolio holder, that would be a better use of your funds. In the meantime, you can connect with friends and mentors in your field to ask their opinions on the trend.

Weigh the risks and rewards of designing a resume before deciding. When it comes to job searching, all it takes is one small mistake on your part for an employer to discount your candidacy.

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