Resume Design vs. Resume Content

Finding the Perfect Balance

An effective resume must include the essential details employers are looking for and satisfy applicant tracking systems. After that is achieved, design should be used strategically to further strengthen the content and ensure readability. Resume design – when executed well – is a great strategy, but a balance must be achieved between content and design. And with the rise of infographic resumes, it can be tempting to jump on the design bandwagon and neglect the quality of your resume’s content – the most essential part. A beautiful resume with weak content won’t get you very far, and forcing boring data into a design element will not make your resume any stronger. Used appropriately, design should enhance a resume’s content, not detract from it.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How does my resume look when copied/pasted or uploaded to a job board? Is it compatible with HTML conversion?
  • How does my resume look when printed?
  • What does my eye go to first on the document?
  • Do the essential parts of my resume – qualifications, skills, and achievements – draw the reader’s attention? Are they readily located?
  • Would my audience (hiring managers in the industry I’m targeting) appreciate or be put off by a creatively designed resume?
  • Can my “designed” resume be easily converted into a Word, PDF, or plain text file?

One way to ensure you are balancing these two components of a resume correctly is to write the content first, then work on the design. It may not be as efficient, though may help you fight the temptation to make your content fit your design’s needs, especially if you are working from a template.


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