On Resume Design

I have this itch where I love reviewing resumes. Two years ago in one of my typography classes, we spent two whole months designing and tweaking and perfecting our resumes, which is understandable, because a graphic designer should have an impeccable resume. It’s basically an infographic, but less graphic and more info.

Most employers go through your resume in thirty seconds or less, usually ten. According to the Huffington Post, the average employer spends only six seconds. Insane, right? You put so much work into something that will live in the middle of a huge stack of papers, only to be glanced over and possibly discarded. I think this is partially due to the fact that we can send resumes in bulk now via email or online application services like the resumator. How long did you spend crafting your resume to the specific place you’re applying? How much effort did you put forth in appealing to specific people? Employers can spot that effort pretty quickly, and they give you the same amount in return.

However, the more I look at resumes online, resumes that are supposed to be treated as templates and inspiration, I’m disappointed in the people that made them, and frankly a little ashamed that they call themselves designers. As I’ve been harking for the last five years, there is a different between a graphic designer and a Photoshop jockey.

As Robert said in my favorite show, Downton Abbey, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” So before I start judging other people’s resumes, here’s mine:


I want to include my top three worst and best resumes from the internet:




This guy is clearly trying way too hard. What is the homeland security gimmick supposed to say about him? That he’s dangerous? Dangerously good at design? Definitely not that. Using a “handwriting”-esque font on the right hand side drives me nuts, they’re incredibly tacky (if you want it to look handwritten, write it yourself and scan it in). The strikethroughs are distracting, and the photograph is too moody. I’d tell this guy to start over.



This resume doesn’t follow any kind of understandable hierarchy. Why is STATUS so much larger, is that really what’s important? The word ‘resume’ probably shouldn’t be on here, I mean, it should be obvious what it is and not tell you. Why the number 10? The excruciatingly long “experience” paragraph uses passive language and is too wide for eyes to read quickly. And I can’t make any sense of the other floating text above. You’re shrugging? I am too. 



At first glance, the tracking (letterspacing) is way too wide on this. It’s hard to skim through, I feel like it’s slowing me down. That type of stylistic treatment is only appropriate in small amounts somewhere in header text. I’d cut out the orange skyline (?) and background completely, as well as the silhouette of the person. What’s he doing? Why is it there? What city is that, anyway? Why are there two sideways brackets? Also, you should include a very clear link to your online work — requesting it only requires an extra hoop for the employer to jump through, which you might not get.




The eyes of English speakers read from left to right. The most important information should typically be near the top left of the page, because that’s what we’ll look for first. This person’s name is clear, the logotype behind it isn’t overwhelming, and the sections are clearly marked, which provide for quick skimming. The three column format at the bottom is a little odd for my taste, but it’s a nice way to break up the wide and short blocks from earlier sections. Also, contact information and examples of work are clearly marked at the bottom.



This resume is a breath of fresh air. You can see from the years listed that this designer has been around the block for awhile and knows what to do – her job titles are clearly marked, followed by the time span and company. Honestly, that’s what should be most easy to read. If this piques interest, someone will read further. Also, I appreciate her abandonment of traditional bullets in favor of the little arrow/triangles. It shows attention to detail, because the dots are so overdone. 


Very clean, very easy to read. 

My modus operandi is to always create a highly individualized cover letter for every place I apply, even when I was interning in college. I started putting together actual infographics as cover letters, in an attempt to break down the traditional wall of text and make something a little more fun to read (and maybe make them laugh! Remember, people reading resumes might go through hundreds before they find you, you should stick out).

Here are some images that are weak resumes, but potentially terrific self-promotions:

What do you think?


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