Résumé Design – 10 Not-So-Obvious Tips

You’ve been doing your homework and using all the standard top tips to refine your résumé, but that doesn’t mean your résumé design is ready to go out into the world and work for you! Use these nine advanced tips to dig a little deeper, tighten your design, and make sure your résumé gets to the top of the Interview Pile.

Objective Specific to Job Posting.

Hiring managers don’t care that you want a job, they want to know why you want this job and how it fits into your overall career plan. What are your goals within the field, and more importantly, what can you do for them?

To many employers, a generic objective at the top of a résumé is much worse than none at all because it shows a missed opportunity to connect with the business you’re applying to.

List Concrete & Specific Skills.

Skills specific to electrical engineering. You completed the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam. What does that mean? What important functions can you carry out? What technical or industry programs can you use? Even if it seems obvious or implied, show what you know!

I once listed proficiency in both PC and Mac use on a résumé, even though I thought that knowing both was a really obvious technical skill. It turned out to be one thing that made me stand out from other applicants and I ended up getting the job.

Experience vs. Relevant Experience.

If it’s been more than five years since you graduated high school, it’s probably time to stop listing it on your résumé, especially if you’ve since completed a higher degree. Put that current and relevant experience and education at the top of the page so it’s hard to miss.

No experience in your career field yet? Find skills and responsibilities in your work history that could translate into useful skills in your field. Maybe the strict organizational responsibilities in your last administrative assistant job are crucial to the accountant position you’re going for. Leadership skills are vital in every industry across the board. Highlight your experiences in manager and supervisor positions.

References Available on Request?

If you have references available on request, you might as well list them! There’s no reason not to, and it saves the hiring manager an extra step. If they’re looking through 150 résumés and your résumé doesn’t include all the information they want, it’s an easy way for your résumé to end up in the No Thanks pile.

Organized Information.

If your résumé is confusing or hard to read, it’s probably due to poor organization in your résumé design. Pay attention to the visual hierarchy. Is like information grouped together and easy to find? Do section titles stand out? Is the most important or relevant information displayed first? Have someone else look over your résumé and see if they have any difficulties navigating it at a glance.

Let Your Personality Show Through!

Even though you’re using formal language in a job application, try to let your voice come through in your cover letter and résumé. If an employer can get a glimpse of your shining personality, it makes you more memorable and more like a real person rather than a bunch of words on a paper.

Explain Gaps in Your Résumé.

If your résumé shows a large gap in employment, it’s obviously helpful to explain it somewhere in your cover letter or in your experience section, but other gaps can cause confusion to hiring managers too. If it’s been a few years since you graduated with a degree but you don’t have any professional experience in your field, they might wonder why you chose to stick with a non-related job instead of moving into your new career field.

Have you been looking, but found the job market in your field too limited? Or did you make an agreement to stay at your current job for a specific period of time? Whatever the case, let the hiring manager know how eager and excited you are to transition into your new career field at their business.


If you’re applying to jobs in a different city from your current location, you’ve got extra challenges to deal with. Make it clear that you’re relocating and mention when you’re anticipating being in the area. Are you able to visit town for an interview? Say so. If not, use the cover letter to show them how easy it is to conduct the interview long distance! Offer to meet via Skype, Google Hangouts, or phone call for an interview.

Be Brief.

I know it’s hard, but try to keep your résumé to one page if possible. It’s cleaner, it’s easier to read, and it almost certainly means that you’ve cut down on the fluffy crap and tightened your résumé design and content down to the essentials. Use your cover letter to deliver extra information and let your personality shine, but do be aware that not every hiring manager will accept a cover letter. Make sure the meat of your message fits into your résumé itself.

Ask for Help.

When in doubt, reach out. Actually, always reach out. It never hurts to have an extra set of eyes on your résumé, and I bet you know someone in art, design, or writing who would love to help make your résumé stand out from the crowd. They might even work for cookies or beer. Win – win!

Need an extra set of eyes on your résumé, or want to take your résumé design up a notch? Send it my way! I’m happy to look over your current résumé and return it with notes and suggestions, free of charge.


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