Tips for Designing an Aesthetically Pleasing Resume

Nancy Anderson
Posted by in Career Advice

After spending hours writing and proofreading your resume, don't make the mistake of sending it out without making it as visually appealing as possible. Content is very important, but the right format makes you look organized and professional. Make a good impression by following these tips for creating an aesthetically pleasing document.

1. Font Selection

Use a font that makes it easy for recruiters to skim your resume. Helvetica looks professional, so it's one of the best options available. Garamond, Times New Roman and Georgia are also suitable for professional documents. Because script fonts are so difficult to read, avoid them completely. Pick a font size ranging from 9 points to 12 points; anything smaller or larger makes documents difficult to read.

Use serif and sans-serif fonts to your advantage when formatting your resume. Serif fonts are ideal for paragraphs and lists, while sans-serif fonts work well for section headers. Whatever your choice, consistency is key. Using more than two fonts in a resume only decreases its readability.

2. Color Scheme

For many industries, black text on a white background is still the best way to go. If you're applying for jobs in a creative field, however, you may want to add a border or logo to make your resume more appealing. Optimally, you should pick just one or two colors and stick with them. Instead of using hot pink or neon yellow, use subdued colors such as navy blue and burgundy.

3. White Space

It's important to leave some white space around each header and block of text in your resume. White space makes it easier to read a document and focus on the content. Conversely, too much white space artificially increases the length of your resume, making it look like you don't have much experience. Strike the perfect balance by using just enough white space to make your resume look organized.

4. Section Headers

Headings draw attention to each section of your resume, making it easy for recruiters to skim the document. For best results, use relevant keywords in each heading. If the recruiter doesn't have to search for your skills, you have a better chance of getting the job.

5. Text Formatting

Purdue Online Writing Lab recommends dividing your resume into quadrants. Ideally, each quadrant should have roughly the same amount of text and white space. If your current resume is out of balance, use columns to move some of the text from one side of the page to the other. Also, place your most important information in the top left quadrant, as this is the area readers tend to skim first.

If you want to emphasize certain sections of your resume, you have the option of underlining the text, putting it in italics or making it bold. It doesn't matter which one you choose, but be consistent. Using several formatting styles reduces the readability and visual appeal of the document.

6. Bullet Points

Don't overwhelm recruiters with a text-heavy resume. By using bullets, it's possible to pack a lot of information into just one page. For best results, each bullet point should be no more than a few words.

7. Alignment and Margins

It's okay if you want to center your section headers, but stick with left alignment for the rest of your text. People read from left to right, so left-aligned text is easier to follow. In most cases, you should set your margins to an inch on all four sides of the page.

8. Capitalization

Use title case for section headers and sentence case for the rest of your resume. It's difficult for most people to read strings of capital letters, so don't use all caps to emphasize important information.

One of the best ways to make a good impression is to make the recruiter's life easier. Submitting a visually appealing resume makes it easy for hiring managers to process information and assess your qualifications, so spend extra time making sure your resume looks as good as it can before you apply for a job.

Photo Courtesy of Calvin Belcher at


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  • Dia Malak
    Dia Malak

    This is very helpful. Thanks

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Nekibuddin you can find tons of examples on the Internet. Just do a Google search for a senior manager resume and you will get a million responses in just a few seconds. Hope that helps.

  • Nekibuddin Ahmed
    Nekibuddin Ahmed

    Please send a sample resume for a senior manager capacity, as per your comment, which will help in my professional career. Waiting for response from your end at the earliest.

  • Maqsood Ahmed
    Maqsood Ahmed

    Thanks for updating such information ,these are very basic tips for cv.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for all of these great comments. @Jan B - 10 years is guideline. If you have experience that is relevant but it older than 10 years, you might consider including it. But make sure that your experience is still applicable. For instance if you used a particular software back then that is no longer being used - don't include it. You don't want to date yourself. As for the length @Daryl, totally up to you. The recommendations are to keep it to one page but that is impossible for some job seekers. Again, the rule of thumb is to only include applicable data and only the past 10 years. @Claudia thanks for that. And that 30 second test is now down to about 6 seconds. @Elisa - take a break. Get away from writing resumes and job searching for a day or so. Go out and do something fun or just get out and get some fresh air. That will help with your writers block. Best of luck to all.

  • Jan B.
    Jan B.

    I just went through and noticed you said not to include any work history past 10 years. I just left a company that I worked for eight years.I left it at that and didn't include anymore although it doesn't look like a lot of information on one page, so can you please advise?

  • Elisa Mondia
    Elisa Mondia

    Excellent Tips - Now can you tell me how to snap out of my writers block when it comes to composing my resume?

  • Daryl Washington
    Daryl Washington

    Is it appropriate for a resume to be more than one page long? People keep telling me to keep it to one page. What are your thoughts on this.


    Totally agree with the tips posted by Nancy Anderson. I had my resume crtique and all of the tips mentioned were noted on my resume. You need to to make sur your resume passes the 30 second test. You also need to make your job descriptions are result based not task based. You should emphasize that you are an "achiever" not a "doer".

  • Roxanne H.
    Roxanne H.

    Good Tips. Thank you

  • Cassandra C.
    Cassandra C.

    I'm a "retired" desktop publisher who spent years formatting personnel résumés for government proposals. If I had this information before, my life would have been a whole lot easier. Thank you for your document formatting education.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Valerie thanks for that. You aren't alone. The first thing I would do is gather up some sample resumes for stockers or retail associates and see how those look. You might be able to borrow some of it for your own resume. But even if you don't, it will give you an idea of what to put on your resume. And, as a PS, never mention your age and the rule of thumb is to only include the past 10 years on your resume.

  • Valerie M.
    Valerie M.

    I'm not trying to land an office or professional job here, just a stock job or the like. I have a bunch of experience in that field and have done retail and a bit of receiving. I'm horrible at writing a resume. I am not sure how to make any skills I have look usable. Personally I think employers for these kinds of jobs only look for young, cheaply paid employees and could care less for my skills so how can I make a 49 year old woman look like she could run the place??

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. It truly is great to find a happy to way to stand out of the crowd without coming off looking like a circus clown. I agree that it's important to have a nice clean formatted resumes with bullet points highlighting your accomplishments. The current rule of thumb is to only include the past ten years of work experience - unless the position requires information that is older than that. @Melanie so true - just skills, abilities, education and work experience -that is applicable to the position for which you are applying. Thanks for that - we all need to know what it is that HR is expecting when they review our resumes.

  • Abbey Boyd
    Abbey Boyd

    When creating your resume, it's important to remember that you want your resume to stand out in a batch of many others. Many people go overboard trying to accomplish this. As stated, the bold and bright colors and fancy fonts are actually distracting and can be a major turn off to a potential employer. This article does a great job of explaining what to do without overdoing it. I love bullets, as they can provide so much information in so little space, and make the resume so much easier for a hiring manager to read through.

  • Melanie E.
    Melanie E.

    Although a little color is fine, too much can be a distraction for the reader. I prefer resumes that are simple, concise and to the point. Tell me about your skills, abilities and past work experiences. I often come across 2 to 3 page resumes that contain way too much information. Limit the personal stuff. I’m not really interested in how you spend your weekends, and I’m not going to spend time digging out the buried in facts that I need to determine whether or not you are qualified for the position. I’ll move on to the next applicant who has provided a brief summary of exactly why they are qualified.

  • Sylvia L.
    Sylvia L.

    At a time when employers receive many resumes, it is important to not only keep yours crisp and professional, as this article states, but also add a little touch of you in the mix. When hiring, I always appreciate seeing something that makes one resume stand out from another, and I also like a focal point. Whether you add a touch of color to your resume or choose a unique tagline, having something that makes me remember you is useful. Likewise, my eyes want to find something to focus on. Please provide it.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Jacob thanks for your comment. The bullet points are used for ease of viewing and to keep it short - to the point. Sort of like when you create an outline for a report. Keeping it to one page, if possible, is simply a guideline. We have job seekers tell us that they cut and cut and still have 2 or 3 pages. If you keep your information to the past 10 years and list the tasks performed without duplication from one position to next, you should be able to keep your resume relatively short. Headers that are bold along with bullet points gives you a clean, clear and concise resume. After all, that is your goal.

  • Jacob T.
    Jacob T.

    Is the goal with bullet points, formatting and white-space balancing to create a concise resume? To be easy on the recruiter is it ultimately best to keep a resume to a single page, regardless of the narrative about your experience you are trying to tell? Making good use of headers and bullets really does help on that particular front.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for your comments. @Catherine that 30 second view has been lessened to about 6 seconds. Companies are inundated with resumes for each position that they post. If the resume makes it through the gatekeeper, it will still only get about 6 seconds. In that time, the hiring manager is looking for those all important and pertinent keywords. @Katharine most places won't ask for a hard copy of your resume. But, if you should come across a company that wants to receive a hard copy via mail, I would probably take the time to find nicer paper with matching envelops. Do they care? Maybe not but if I was mailing my resume and cover letter, I would want to stand out! The actual format of your resume is up to you. From my perspective, I would like to see clean, neat resumes - no funky formats or splitting the page in half, etc. Just straightforward job titles and information along with bullet points. @William so very true. This is your chance to tell your story so make it count.

  • William Browning
    William Browning

    The overall goal of your resume is to tell your story, and formatting goes a long way to provide structure to the novel of your life. You want your story to be rich, full of great details and have a lot of meaning. At the same time, it has to be readable by other people. It's your story, so make it count.

  • Katharine M.
    Katharine M.

    Does the type of paper you use matter, if you are sending in hard copies of your resume? I know people used to buy expensive stiff paper, but do employers care? How should you divide up the quadrants- experience on one side and education on the other, or something like that? I've also seen resumes where the name of the company and job title are on the left side, and the location and dates of employment are on the right. Is that a good idea?


    Resume formatting really does matter. When text is formatted in an erratic or inconsistent way, it can be very off putting to the employer viewing the resume and naturally diminish one's chances of getting an interview. Resumes with the best formatting allow employers to quickly scan the document in 30 seconds and pick out all the key information without having to read all of the text. I totally agree that bolding, fonts and sizing makes a huge different in what parts of the resume deserve extra emphasis.

  • Rebecca D.
    Rebecca D.


  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for your comments. @Tara that's a great way to look at it - that your resume is the appetizer. Just gives them a little taste of who you are and maybe leaves them wanting to know more. Once you are in the interview, that is the time to sell yourself. The resume is just the foot in the door. And yes @Hema bullet points really can make a difference. Bullet points allow your resume to look clean and neat and professional. Thanks again for the comments.

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