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I'll Take Resume Bells - Hold The Whistles

Where do you draw the line between effective and over-the-top when it comes to designing your resume?

You've seen it all - page border, shading, boxes, headliners, taglines, keywords lists, logos, arrow bullets, and even color.

There's a growing pressure these days to give a resume the WOW factor. But what does that mean exactly?

In short, it means doing something visually exciting to make the resume seem spectacular. This does not always mean graphic elements. It can be as simple as the way the resume information is sectioned, bolded, and indented.

Design aside, accomplishments - as in the actual information - triumph when it comes to the WOW factor. That is not to say you shouldn't add a few design elements. In fact, it is essential to grab the reader's attention and bring their eyes to your most important achievements.

So what is appropriate to add to a resume to give it the WOW factor without going over board? It really depends on what your career level and field are.

If you are an executive or are in a technical or scientific field, your resume should have minimal eye candy. If you are an executive, the resume should not have a page border, as that is more staff level. These types of resumes should not use too much shading because it looks less professional.

If you are non-executive, you can use boxes around text with drop down shadows, page borders and shading in the same resume. Just go easy.

One of the most overlooked opportunities to add impact to a resume is the top third of the resume. This is the first section that is read, and is your introduction. You can bold the entire first line of a paragraph, create a chart and bold or shade the sub categories and add a box around the entire summary of qualifications section.

Using graphics in any resume is not a good idea unless you are using logos of credentials such IT certifications. A photograph is okay if your field is entertainment, news anchor or even real estate sales.

If you do use a photo, make sure it is a headshot and either done by a professional photographer or someone who has good photography skills.

To get better ideas, look at resume samples online or resume books from the bookstore or library. When considering a style, pay close attention to the career level and field, and consider both why and how the design elements are used. For example, are the enhancements used just to make the resume attractive or to highlight certain sections?

Whatever you decide, use your discretion. When in doubt, less is more.


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