50 Shades Of Resume: Make It Awesome

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OK, after stepping away from resumes for a bit, I’m back for a final roundup. Namely, what we can learn from the 50 Shades of Resume analysis to make your resume awesome.

So I went through all my past analysis and here’s what stood out!

Now That’s Something Else

  • Making your resume look like something else is a great way to show creativity and communicate. If it looks like a newspaper, an ad, etc. that shows your skills and may just be a good way to communicate.
  • In some cases your resume could literally be in another form – a book, a poster, and so on. This could be radical and expensive, but clearly shows skill and commitment. An excellent choice if the chosen form relates to your career. Just make sure to have a regular resume available.
  • A resume can also be done over something or integrated into something – like an illustration ora photo. This can also let you focus on a look or a metaphor appropriate to a given industry or job.
  • You may want to go nuts and just go all out with a crazy, almost obsessive effort to do a different resume, especially if that applies to your skillset.

The Form And The Function

  • Try a different material besides paper – though if you make it out of something non-paper, you may want to make the content itself more standard. This will be memorable, though it may be a bit odd.
  • Consider resumes that can be folded into different forms, collapsed down like a flyer, etc. Those are great to hand out to people.
  • If you can do a business-card sized resume you’ve got a great thing to hand to people you meet.

Make It User Friendly

  • Consider making a resume as simple and minimal as possible. A good, precise resume can have an impact – and may fit well onto unusual forms.
  • The use of known icons for social media, skills, and so on makes a resume easy to read, skim, and use.

The Digital Resume

  • If you have an online or otherwise digital resume, this is a chance to use design, web, art, and technical skills to show your stuff. Or to show that you can pay someone. Either way you’re freed from physical limits.
  • Crazy online resumes and so on should have links to other ways to get a dull, regular resume. In case.
  • If you create a digital resume, consider making using a related metaphor – a familiar website, a video game, and so on.
  • Remember a digital resume can be interactive.

The Look

  • Coordinate your resume design and that of other marketing materials (business carts, web page) to have the same look. Use the same colors, fonts, icons, etc. This makes you memorable, looks professional, and probably is easier to update.
  • Font choice is very important – and you have a huge variety of them to choose from.
  • Consider varying font sizes and colors for a more diverse yet consistent resume.
  • Break your resume up well. Having identifiable sections makes it easier to skim and to digest.
  • Using colors stands out. Even one or two splashes makes a difference.
  • Good design can give a resume a 3D appearance, which can be very pleasing.
  • Consider anchoring your resume with visual elements; a colorful band down the middle of the page dividing it up, a picture of yourself at the top, different divisors, etc. These can let you keep a standard resume while making it more interesting.
  • Try something else than a white background and black text. I’ve seen resumes that were white-on-black and were very effective.


  • Two column resumes allow you to get a lot on one page. Make sure the columns are broken up appropriately.
  • Parts of a resume can be mutlicolumn, like putting achievements in multiple columns under a job. This can save space and let you experiment with better layouts and metaphors.
  • If you want to show some art, the left hand side is a good place to put it, providing a kind of border/compliment to the rest of the resume.
  • If you want to get a little crazy, try moving your name out of the header and vertically onto the side, in a band across the resume, or something else.

More Than Text

  • Paths, charts, graphs, and timelines are ways to give people a strong sense of your history. People relate to visual information.
  • A resume can be done as an infographic. Resumes sort of are anyway, but when you take it all the way and do it right it’s very effective.
  • If you’re rethinking the different parts of a resume consider how the different sections can be shown different. Some ideas:
    • Skills can be displayed as bar graphs.
    • Skills can be displayed as icons indicating software or products you know.
    • Job history and education can be shown as timelines.

Cover Letters

  • Don’t forget a good cover letter, package, envelope, etc. can make an impression. After all, people may see that before the resume.
  • If you have a standard format and design – fonts, colors – don’t forget to use that on cover letters.

Personal Touches

  • Including a picture (or drawing) of yourself personalizes a resume
  • If you’re an artist you can work in some of your art, but be careful so you don’t overwhelm the piece.

So those are the findings that came to mind for me after analyzing all these resumes.  I think I’ll be working them into some of my presentations and advice.

So, what did you learn?

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.