For years I have been using a resume with unique font and unique color palette (very toned down, but different then standard black). I used to believe that my resume should stand out as much as possible (within reason, of course). However recently few people pointed out that my resume should be as simple as possible - just regular white paper with black font text. They said that HR usually sees those fancy resumes as style over substance and are more suspicious towards those candidates (which results in being rejected more often). Or do those standard ones signal that candidate is too lazy to make little extra effort?

What is the current trend? Does it really matter that much?

  • It basically comes down to the style preferences of the first person reading it, who is acting as the gatekeeper. You have to make some guesses based on the industry, but it's hard to go wrong with a relatively conservative format. In a technical field, some people (including me) view excessively pretty formats with slight suspicion, but mostly just try to ignore it either way. – Pete W Feb 22 at 20:25
  • I use red for my name, headers and line separators in my resume, other text is black. It spices it up and highlights the different sections but it doesn't feel over done. If I get negative feedback from a few people I may change it but until then I'll probably keep the style and layout. – Monstar Feb 22 at 22:09

I have taught both resume writing and job hunting strategies, here's the traditional wisdom:

  • Don't chase trends. Eventually, they fall out of favor and count against you.
  • Be prepared to tweak your resume to fit the job for which you are applying.
  • While "trendy" resumes will get attention, they are just as likely to get bad, as good attention. A standard resume will not give you any bonus points, but it won't count against you either.
  • Your best bet is to research the company you are applying to. There are plenty of discussion boards out there that can help. Do a search for "What style does XYZ corporation want to see".

Beyond this, remember, the purpose of the resume is to GET THE INTERVIEW

To do that, you want a clear, concise summary of skills and responsibilities, and the proper keywords which you can glean from the job posting (if there is one)

So, no matter what anyone tells you, or tries to sell you, there is no magic formula or "perfect" resume.


Your best approach is to start with a standard format, then learn what you can about the company to see if there are any particular things they want to see in a resume.

  • 2
    "Be prepared to tweak your resume to fit the job for which you are applying." - This is really important. I once applied for a promotion within the company I was currently working for, I had to send a resume (required), but it was 20 pages. It contained everything I had done in my last 10 years in my current position, a reminder of every award or amazing thing I did, literally anything to justify the promotion. Now my situation as unique, I knew who my (1) competition was for the job, and I knew what my employer was looking for. The moral of the story is customize the resume to the job. – Donald Feb 22 at 21:03

It might matter depending on what jobs you are applying to. If you're applying for something that involves artistic work, such as some sort of graphics designer role, than having something visually distinct could help demonstrate your skills and this could help.

Having a resume that stands out might be good, but you also want it to be easy to read. And it's also possible to stand out in a negative way, with too many fancy & flashy flourishes. Maybe have a few different friends who work in different areas look at it, and get their feedback.

Another consideration: if you submit your resume electronically, will your custom font and colour palette survive whatever electronic mangling some HR system will perform? Maybe for electronic submissions, stick to fonts and layouts that are more standardized.

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