5 Expert Tips To Modernize The 'Look And Feel' Of Your Resume

While a direct cause has yet to be proved, the research is clear. Humans’ attention spans are getting shorter. Just eight seconds or less according to recent research conducted by Microsoft, and this was more than 30% less than similar research had found ten years prior. Related: 7 Tips To Help Dust Off The Old Resume And Get It Ready For Your Job Search Now Realizing that, it isn’t shocking that a study conducted by The Ladders found that on average, recruiters spend only six seconds reviewing each resume. As we move deeper and deeper into the digital age, it is increasingly important that your resume is written and designed to account for these facts. Your resume should be written tightly, the content succinct. But graphics play a big role as well. Some frequently quoted statistics from a variety of researchers tell us that the human brain can see images that last for a mere 13 milliseconds and that our eyes can register 36,000 visual messages per hour. Further, people retain a memory of the information they have learned through a graphic far more effectively than information learned through words. It is for these reasons that infographic resumes are so popular now, and a handful of professional resume writers, myself included, have started offering the development of infographic resumes as an option. Of course, infographic resumes are not right for everyone. But, infographic elements can be used to greatly enhance the eye appeal of even the most traditional resumes. Here are some tips to help you incorporate infographic elements in your own resume.


1. Charts, Graphs & Tables

If you have a lot of numbers to include, especially numbers that show an increase or improvement of some sort, consider presenting the data in an easy-to-read table format. Or, it can be very impactful to create a graphical chart or graph to present the data. Microsoft Word has powerful tools to help you with this, or you can create the graph in Excel and import it into your resume.

2. Graphical Elements

The Shapes and SmartArt features in Microsoft Word is easy to use and provide the tools to create all sorts of graphical elements in your resume. The standards offered are highly customizable and are great ways to showcase a list of key qualifications or other information and data pieces that can be presented as a process, a cycle, hierarchy, matrix, or more.

3. Callout Boxes

Callout boxes are another way to draw attention to key information. Microsoft Word’s Text Box feature can be used for this, or depending on the layout you can use a single cell table. This is a great technique to showcase signature accomplishments, a personal branding statement, or even a quote from a reference letter.

4. Traditional Design Options

In many cases, even simple design elements such as selective shading, page borders, paragraph borders, ruling lines, designer bullets, monograms, strategically applied white space, and drop caps can give your resume the extra visual pop that it needs to stand out from the masses.

5. Coordinated Styles, Themes & Color Schemes

After 20 years of resume writing, I consider myself an advanced user of Microsoft Word. However, it wasn’t until I sat down and made a concerted effort to learn how to use Word’s Themes, Styles, and Color Schemes features that I realized how incredibly powerful and helpful they are when designing a resume. If you aren’t sure what these features are and what they can do for you, it is worth spending an hour or two learning. Using these features as you develop your resume gives you instantly coordinated color and design schemes to choose from, with so many customizable options that you are sure to create a unique and eye appealing resume design. Finally, remember that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Inappropriately or excessively applied design can make your resume look gaudy or flashy. This is not the first impression you want to make. Think strategically and have a reason for your design choices. With a few exceptions for clients in more creative or trendy industries, my rule of thumb is to use muted rather than bright colors very selectively and to shoot for a distinctively understated and sophisticated look. Some inspiring examples can be found in my resume samples portfolio and if you want expert help and advice, I am happy to meet with you. Just book an appointment for a consultation with me..

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About the author

Michelle Dumas founded Distinctive Career Services, LLC (formerly Distinctive Documents) in 1996, one of the Internet's longest-standing resume writing, personal branding, and career marketing firms. As one of only a handful of multiple certified professional resume writers, including the prestigious NCRW, CPRW, CPBS, CEIP, and JCTC credentials, Michelle is widely respected as an authority in the resume writing and employment services industries. Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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