Resume Design – Tips for your CV


When I’m hiring designers, I go through dozens of resumes in a day. The ones that stand out are, for me, the ones that are clear, coherent ones that demonstrate to me that you are a confident and mature designer, and know that you don’t have to overcompensate lack of skills with an over-dressed CV. Today I wanted to talk about the design of resumes, and how websites like Dribbble and Behance encourage designers to push for more wacky and inventive designs, when all you need is something clear, simple and well layed out.

Resume Design

As designers, we tend to overthink portfolios and resumes. We see beautiful and innovative designs on sites like Dribbble and Behance and think that’s the standard for the real world. As someone who goes through dozens of CVs and portfolios, I can tell you that simple is best.

No one will ever discount your skills if you keep things simple, elegant and well presented. The key is to make the content do the talking.

You want your experience and skills to stand out, not the design of your CV. Don’t overthink it.

“Also, don’t overthink it. Sarah Lee. Frozen. Unbelievable.”

So here are 6 points of advice for designers who are designing their CV for product or UX design roles. I’m sure that graphic designers have their own personal view of what they think makes a resume stand out.


1. Make It Easy for the Person Hiring

Make the most important points of information clear. As someone who hires designers for produce and UX design roles, I mainly want to see your experience. Have you worked at a startup or agency? What is your skillset? Have you designed for iOS, android or responsive web? Do you have any peripheral skills that might be useful, such as prototyping or writing code? Is there a link or URL to an online portfolio?

All of these things will help me decide whether or not you will be an interesting candidate to talk to.  You want this information to get the most priority. There are designers who like to include a few points about their personality – what they like to get up to in their spare time. If you want to add this information, that’s fine – but it shouldn’t take higher priority than the information that really matters.

Imagine if you were the hiring manager, and you were looking through dozens of CVs per day.

2. Keep the Design Simple, Clear and Easy to Read

I’ve seen a lot of wacky fonts in my day. Sometimes, the PDF reader will render these a bit strangely and it can be difficult to read. My advice to you is to pick a nice, simple font to use for the blocks of text. If you really want to add personality and flair, go with a decorative font for the headings.

Nine times out of ten, a simple design is best. You’re not going to lose marks for a boring CV, but you will definitely lose marks if your CV is not readable.

3. Emphasise The Important Stuff

Experience is the number 1 thing I look for when I’m going through CVs. I want to see that you can work in a startup – so having experience with a startup or agency will mean that I keep reading.

Emphasise your experience by including your role at the previous company, how long you worked there, and a few bullet points about your achievements. For example – did you redesign the checkout to improve the conversion rate? Or did you oversee the design and implementation of new features?

4. Make It Printer Friendly

If you get called for an interview, it’s likely that the interview committee may have to print out multiple copies of your CV. If you have used a dark coloured background or images, it will waste a lot of ink.

Make your resume printer friendly by using a pale or white background. Go easy on the loud colours. If you want to use an accent, it’s perfectly fine to use a colour for icons, borders and lines, but steer clear of having a strong background colour. It’s not necessary.

5. Use Icons and Symbols

If you want to add graphical elements and personality to your CV, you can use icons and symbols to break up the text and make it easier to read.

To show email links, website URLs, experience, training and qualifications, some nice icons will really help things look more interesting. Using a nice well considered icon set can make your CV look professional.

6. This ‘Graphs’ Trends…

So there’s a current trend for designers to use graphs to show their proficiency in a particular software. 50% in Sketch, 20% in CSS….

This tells me nothing.

I don’t use this trend personally, but I’ve found that it’s very popular on lists of ‘best CV design’ and ‘CV design trends of 2017’. It’s a trend, and it’s a nice way to introduce new shapes and colours to the resume, but overall it tells me nothing about your skills, other than you’ve read design blogs.

If you’re a mature designer, you shouldn’t need these bar-charts and graphs. Your design work, experience and education should do the talking, not your self-assessment.

So that is my advice to designers when creating their resume. The important thing to remember is to keep it simple and let the content do the talking.

If you have any insights in what you look for when hiring designers, I would love to hear from you! Tweet me or let me know via email. It’s always great to hear another person’s perspective.

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