The final step to winning the resume war is having a resume that looks good so that it gets noticed from the pile of other, less attractive ones.

If your resume looks great but has terrible content on it, you won’t get the job. So first, make sure your resume’s content is up to par, then come back to this.

The best part is, all of this can be done in Word.

  1. Color

If the competition turns in a white sheet of paper with black text, and you turn in a black sheet of paper with white text, yours is going to stand out automatically. That being said, too much color is worse than none at all, because it’ll be distracting. I suggest using color to emphasize your name, your degree, and your contact information if you think it’s needed. Sticking to pastel or more neutral colors is usually a safe bet though. Here are a few examples, with their hex codes.

resume-colors-examples

Keep in mind what emotions or character traits are associated with different colors as you are considering your choice. The entire sheet of paper doesn’t need to have color, just the edges, or your name, or the headline.

Resume-graphic-color-examples-standard-good-bad If you use too much color it begins to look distorted, haphazard, or like an invitation to a child’s birthday party. Color is powerful, use it wisely (and sparingly) and you’ll go far.

  1. Hierarchy

The hierarchy of information on your resume is the order you want people to view the content in. You show it through the size of the words, their color, their placement and the font you use.

hierarchy-example

Most of the time, you want people to look at your name, your job experience, then your degree and other information. Your contact information should also be prominently displayed, so when they decide “hey, this girl really knows her stuff” they can call you straight away.

 

  1. Emphasis

As was just mentioned, the hierarchy of the page will communicate to the reader what to look at first. Emphasis is that next step that breaks down your big sections like job history, degree, and contact information into smaller parts.

Resume-graphic
Even a simple layout like this can create emphasis using color and visual hierarchy.

Depending on the job you are applying for, you either want to emphasize the title of the job you had, how long you had it, or the company you worked for. If you worked for Disney, you want to highlight Disney. If you had a bunch of smaller internships while you’re in college, emphasize the number and the job titles.

Emphasis-examples

For instance when I applied at Bookbyte, I had three different journalism internships on my resume. It wasn’t so important where each of those internships were at, so much that I had four different jobs doing professional writing.

  1. White Space

White space is the science of not putting things on the page. It’s another way to tell people where to look first, and it makes you look professional to boot.

white-space-graphic
The left image, while not a bad resume layout, is cluttered. With the right image, you know right where to look and you don’t have text or graphics competing for attention.

 

A cluttered, crowded resume can’t be saved by color or emphasis, because there’s simply too much to look at. White space teaches the viewer what you want them to look at first.

  1. Content

Surprise, the content you include in your resume is actually part of its design. Let me explain.

Having a 200 word summary of what you achieved at your past 6 jobs is going to bog down your resume in such a way that no amount of color, arrangement or hierarchy is going to be able to fix.

Trimming the excess will make your achievements look more important and powerful. You don’t need two sentences to explain why being the only person to get an internship at Boeing is impressive: you can simply state the facts and let them stand on their own legs.

Arrangement-Graphic
Instead of simply throwing everything you’ve ever done on your resume, boil it down to key points and emphasize the most powerful strengths of your career. A little color helps spice it up too.

It is highly, highly unlikely that your resume needs to be more than one page long, unless you’ve been in your industry for more than ten years. That goes double for fresh college graduates. Nobody is going to believe that you have enough job experience to occupy two pages. So limit your content so it only takes up a single page, and then cut it down to its most bare, powerful statement.

If you’re pretty confident you’ll get the job, why not learn the tricks to keeping a job nobody has taught you?