Your resume should not be Instagramable

Why we recommend a professional resume format

We recently came across an article in The Wall Street Journal titled “Résumés Are Starting to Look Like Instagram—and Sometimes Even Tinder.”

It left us a bit, well, “shook.”

We often get questions from our clients about the best resume format to use and wanted to share our insights on the topic.

Your resume is a professional document, and as such, we always recommend a modern yet conservative resume format.

From our experience and discussions with recruiters, resumes that incorporate photos, graphics, logos, and colors do attract attention - but not in a good way.

Based on the (predominantly negative) reactions that we’ve seen from recruiters with regard to graphic resumes, we strongly recommend playing it safe.

By using standard resume formatting, you’re able to achieve the following outcomes:

Demonstrate your professionalism

Your number one priority when applying for a job is to be taken seriously, and your resume is typically your first (and potentially last) impression. Keep it classy.

Allow your experience to speak for itself

You don't need to use gimmicks to stand out. Instead, leverage impactful design elements and powerful phrasing that highlights your main accomplishments and the value you bring to an organization.

Optimize your resume for ATS screenings

Many applicant tracking systems cannot accurately read information from resumes with symbols, logos, tables, or multiple columns. They only pull text, so your effort spent making your resume look pretty will likely go to waste anyway.

Avoid negative reactions from recruiters

If an element of your resume even has the potential to make someone cringe or roll their eyes, it's best to avoid it.

Leverage the minimal space you have available most effectively

Trying to impress recruiters with "cool" designs wastes time that you could use to further refine your content. Design elements also often take up excessive space that could otherwise be used to convey additional skills and accomplishments.

Eliminate any potential bias

As The Wall Street Journal says, "The flashy résumés are colliding with efforts by employers to strip down CVs to their most basic elements—coding skills, college degrees, work histories—to reduce bias in hiring."

While we acknowledge that graphic resumes are becoming more common and some candidates (such as those quoted in the article) have had success using them, we believe it’s too risky a move.

Maybe they’ll become an accepted practice in the recruitment industry moving forward - and rest assured that we’re always monitoring the latest trends - but for now, keep it simple.

Land the interview first.

Then, you can showcase your personality and likeability during the interview.

But don’t attempt to do so using bitmojis and hearts on your resume.

You don’t want your resume to be overlooked.

As Katie Burke, Chief People Officer of HubSpot, put it, “Photos belong on your personal social-media accounts and online-dating profiles, not your résumé.”

“What you look like has zero impact on what you can do in a role, so photos, bitmojis and other gimmicks often detract from someone’s candidacy versus adding to it.”

When push comes to shove, you’re being hired based on your ability to do the job - not on your ability to put together a cute, Instagramable resume.

Matt Glodz

Matt Glodz is the Founder and Managing Partner of Resume Pilots and a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

After studying business communication at Cornell University, Matt worked within Fortune 500 companies, where he observed what drove the decision making of recruiters and hiring managers first-hand, noting that qualified candidates were frequently denied interview opportunities due to poorly written documents.

At Resume Pilots, Matt combines his solid business and writing background - which includes prior work for a Chicago Tribune publication - to craft resumes that give his clients the best chance of landing interviews. He currently works with applicants ranging from CEOs to recent graduates and has been writing resumes for over eight years.

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