My lists of beautiful resumes generated a lot of buzz and not all of it was positive. After discovering the writeup below, it's time to clear the air. Christopher Mcadams resume

Are beautiful resume designs just a gimmick?

Scott Williamson has over 8 years of experience in recruitment technology and employee development, having worked with over 200 global companies including Time Warner and American Express. You can read more about him on his blog's About page.

Soon after I posted 36 Beautiful Resume Ideas That Work, Scott blogged the following in a post called My what a pretty resume you have…:

…here’s my take of using graphics, pictures, or other techniques to get your resume noticed:

  1. It doesn’t work. Today’s companies use scanning and data extraction tools to field and parse your resume data into the companies database. All formatting generally is lost. Some systems store a pdf of the original, but recruiters don’t care, they use search tools to identify the best candidates, in most cases your ‘pretty’ resume will never be seen.
  2. It appears desperate. Getting cute to get noticed is just a tired technique. Recruiters are looking for talent, unless you’re applying in the field of graphic design or advertising, this type of creativity is likely to have a negative impact.
  3. It makes you look like you’re trying to hide something. Let’s face it, skills and experience are what gets you hired. Resumes with too much flash are distracting and make you appear that that’s all you have.

Having a great looking and properly formatted resume is key to finding your next job. Make sure your resume highlights your achievements, not just lists your experience and if you’ve been promoted while with the same company break out those roles to show your career growth. As for pictures and graphics? Leave those in the closet next to your stonewashed jeans and stirup pants.

Every resume has a design, ignore it and suffer the consequences

Hi Scott, I appreciate you weighing in on this discussion. That post (the 36 Beautiful Resume Ideas That Work) and its followup 38 More Beautiful Resume Ideas That Work have definitely touched a nerve with a lot of people.

People shouldn't use graphics, colored paper, crazy fonts, etc. just for the sake of making a resume memorable and that wasn't the point of my articles. With all due respect, I'm surprised that so many pros missed that. Thankfully, many others didn't.

This isn't public relations where all publicity is good publicity. A resume should only leave a positive impression.

Rather, my point was to inspire people. I tell my readers that a resume is a sales document whose goal is to get them an interview invite, and everything – design included – should be geared towards that sale.

Too many people neglect the design aspect of their resume. Whether the resume writer chooses to make an effort on the design or not, every version of their resume will still have some sort of design just as silence is also an answer to a question.

A candidate with great skills and achievements will not appeal as much as a candidate with great skills and achievements that are propelled by a great design. A Ferrari engine will have much more impact in a Ferrari than in a jalopy.

Someone wise once said that having a great looking and properly formatted resume is key to finding your next job, after all.

What do you think? Subscribe to JobMob via RSS or email and follow me on Twitter for more insight on getting the best job search results.

Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Scott Williamson

    Hi Jacob,

    Glad to continue the discussion. I think there is one main area where we most certainly agree and that would be that a resume needs to leave a positive impression.

    However, I think we disagree on what it takes to make that impression. I still don’t feel that graphics, font, colored paper and the like are the key, but rather an impressive resume should be properly formatted so that the candidates achievements, skills, and experiences are what stand out. When it comes to these areas by all means get creative and think outside the box, but err on the conservative side when it comes to adding ‘fluff’.

  2. isabella mori

    well, well, well.

    i have many years experience as an employment counsellor and have always watched very, very closely which resumes work and which don’t. i have also done hiring and assisted with hiring. so i speak from a bit of experience.

    that content is hyper important in a resume is so obvious, it doesn’t need to be repeated.

    let me reply to these statements:

    “it doesn’t work. today’s companies use scanning and data extraction tools to field and parse your resume data into the companies database. All formatting generally is lost.”

    the vast majority of jobs are with small organizations and they certainly do NOT use that technology.

    plus there’s the resume that you send (email/online application) and the resume that you bring to the job interview. the latter still makes a very good impression when it’s nicely formatted and on nice paper.

    ” it appears desperate. getting cute to get noticed is just a tired technique.”

    there’s a huge difference between getting cute and making a high-class, aesthetically pleasing presentation. would you call a woman who takes care to have her nails done before a job interview “getting cute”?

    “it makes you look like you’re trying to hide something.”

    i don’t get that.

    and more:

    OF COURSE the design needs to go with the content. an accountant applying for a job with one of the big five would do badly to have coloured text highlights and a little design on his resume.

    there’s also the effect that such a resume has on the job seeker. a resume that makes you feel proud, that you can’t wait to show to everyone, is a fabulous self confidence tool.

  3. Jacob Share

    Scott- can you point to some examples of what you consider to be properly-formatted resumes? I’m sure you could find some in my 2 posts, not all of those resumes have color or graphics.

    Isabella- great, real-world advice. The best kind. It’s tempting to paste it into another Isabella Mori guest post on JobMob 🙂

  4. Jacob Share

    Scott has posted a follow-up: My What a Pretty Resume You Have- Revisited

  5. robb

    LOL flashy resumes. of course one ONLY need to put important info. everything else just plain distracting.

  6. Lasey

    As a designer it’s a no-brainer for me. How are they going to think I can design their newspaper or magazine pages if I can’t even make my own resume look interesting?

  7. Celia White

    As a personal marketer for WhiteHaus Marketing, I reconstruct resumes for my clients and your resume is your personal advertisement because you are a brand whether you admit it or not. The resume MUST sell YOU, and design along with professional wording is VITAL. You can not have one without the other. Trust me, your resume will get noticed out of the hundreds of other cookie-cutter ones that get skimmed and tossed.

  8. John Salinger

    “Scott Williamson has over 8 years of experience in recruitment technology and employee development”

    Wow. Wooooowww! Eight whole years! =:O

    So he’s a rookie, barely out of school. Big fat hairy deal.

  9. Kate

    Sorry, but HR prople are boring. They have no idea what to do with anything “different” or “interesting” or “creative”. They only understand qualifications and experience and key words.

  10. Kate

    Being easy on the eyes works all the time.

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