You’ve probably seen them on Pinterest or Etsy: beautiful resume templates with splashy colors and designs that look waaaay better than your black-and-white resume slapped with Times New Roman.
If you Google a bit, you’ll even find custom resume designers with rave reviews virtually promising you a job—if you spend up to three hundred dollars on one first.
The logic is that cool infographics and colors will make you stand out from gazillions of other traditional resumes.
Yes, they’re beautiful. But they will ruin your job search.
First, design means nothing if your content stinks.
Hiring managers want resumes with great content: above all else, great content entails qualifications that fit the job like a glove. If you’re trying to get a job in IT and all your experience is marketing-related, a pretty resume isn’t going to hide the fact that you don’t belong in the position for which you applied. Plus, the employer is just going to get annoyed that you tried to win them over with a hollow gimmick.
And if you do have amazing qualifications? They will speak for themselves. Your resume isn’t going in the trash if it contains all (or most) of what you see in the qualifications list in the job description, so making a fancypants version is a waste of time.
The designs are terrible.
There, I said it. They’re pretty, but most of them won’t help employers find the information they need. Space gets devoted to enormous headers, images, and quotes from your references, when that space would be best used for discussing the outcomes from your work experience.
Let’s also not forget that if you don’t know much about design, your infographics could be hard to follow.
You’ve probably heard the statistic that hiring managers spend about six seconds on every resume. So if they can’t decode your resume in that time, your pretty piece of paper is getting trashed.
They can’t function like traditional resumes.
Fancypants resumes can’t withstand some online application systems, resume scanners, or copy machines. So if you send one anyway, your readers might not see what you intended: nonsensical formatting, faded colors, or straight-up gobbledygook. Traditional resumes are predictable and easy to manipulate, which is probably why they’ll remain the norm for a long time to come.
And here’s one more dysfunctional reason to avoid these kinds of resumes: if everyone submitted them, it would take hiring managers 10 times longer to make a decision because they’ll take longer to scan. You already get irritated when you don’t hear from an employer soon after you send your application—and I guarantee that a fancy resume wouldn’t speed up the process.
So instead of using an infographic resume, try these ideas:
- Target jobs for which you fit the qualifications reeeeeally well. You’ll fit in better to begin with.
- Use muted design tweaks: a conservative font that isn’t Times New Roman, bullet points, capitalization, white space, bold/italic/underlined text, and a small bit of color (on your name, page borders, or line dividers) can break the monotony without getting in anyone’s face.
- If you want to show off your design skills, put samples in an online portfolio and place the link on your resume. You’ll show that you understand the contextual difference between a document for job applications and one meant for design purposes. Plus, you’ll get to show off your best designs instead of the one-off resume that might not be your greatest work.
And if you STILL want to use that fancypants resume:
- Submit it alongside your traditional resume so hiring managers have the option to read the one they want.
- Create a page on your website for it—a great option if you’re a freelancer.
- Share it with your network, and they’ll pass it on when appropriate.