So looking at these CV examples, they look nice, they look professional.

If I needed a graphic designer, or a magazine editor, I'd hire them.

But for a technical role (like an IT developer), does 'slicking up' your CV help?

Personally - my CV is written in Times New Roman, and uses font size, bold and underlining, and bullet points for formatting. It's tidy and readable.

Some of my colleagues use more slick CVs.

So my question I guess is to any recruiters or HR managers, does a slick CV impress, or is it the contents that help?

  • 2
    ****comments removed****: Please avoid using comments for extended discussion. Instead, please use The Workplace Chat. On Workplace SE, comments are intended to help improve a post. Please see What "comments" are not... for more details.
    – jmort253
    Commented May 3, 2014 at 15:42
  • 1
    Hi geekrunner, I noticed you've run into duplicate questions a few times. If these aren't duplicates, you're welcome to expand with edits to make it more clear what problem you face is yet to be solved. Otherwise, a bit more searching prior to asking may save you the time of needing to type up a question. Hope this helps, and if you have any questions about how to approach editing, feel free to jump into The Workplace Chat.
    – jmort253
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 5:34

6 Answers 6


So my question I guess is to any recruiters or HR managers, does a slick CV impress, or is it the contents that help?

I've been a hiring manager in a technical role for many, many years. I hire technical people, in roles where creativity isn't the primary attribute I am seeking.

When I review a resume/CV, I care about

  • content
  • clarity
  • correctness (no typos, mis-spellings, grammar mistakes)

I don't care at all about slickness. For me, content is by far the most important attribute.

I'd be concerned if I got one of the resumes in your linked example, that the candidate spent way too much time on slickness, rather than content. These examples would probably be counted as a negative for me, unless they were otherwise an exceptional fit for the position I was filling.

(your mileage may vary)

  • 7
    While I agree with the sentiments, I think it underestimates the effect of a good-looking resume. We are not always good judges of how we are influenced by things. For example, most people say they are not influenced by adverts. But research shows that most people are. Commented May 2, 2014 at 17:00
  • 3
    I agree with @DJClayworth, especially when the hiring manager is flipping through 50+ resumes, a good looking one could be a good move. If HR makes the first screening, this effect might even be stronger. To me, it shows that the candidate cares about the impression he/she makes. Commented May 2, 2014 at 17:36
  • 1
    @JoeStrazzero There is no way that I can justify an invitation to an interview let alone a hire based on the slickness of a resume. If I tried to do that, the resume sender's candidacy won't go forward and my credibility as a professional goes to hell. Commented May 2, 2014 at 17:48
  • 2
    I'm told that the average time taken to evaluate a resume is 12 seconds. If your resume looks nice enough to persuade the hirer to actually read it all the way through, the formatting has done its job. But if you can increase the chances of that happening, it's worth it. Commented May 2, 2014 at 17:57

When I see a resume, unless I'm hiring for a graphic design position, if it has slick layout and look, I get the feeling the potential hire is hiding or compensating for something.

If the resume is slick, and less readable as a result, I probably toss it.

Let your experiences and abilities shine through, you don't need flash and glitz for a piece of paper.

Anecdote: When my wife was putting together a resume for an internship (she's a Master's student), she wanted to print it out on fancy, expensive paper. I asked her why she wanted to waste the money when the resume would most definitely be tossed after reviewing it.

A lot of people treat a resume like a work of art, when it's much closer to a memo. Information is consumed, reviewed, and then discarded.

  • 1
    A nice looking, though clean resume shows to me that the candidate cares about the impression he/she makes. I would definitely not overdo the flashy-ness for a tech-role, but a touch of good design does help for me. Commented May 2, 2014 at 17:38

A nice looking resume does make you stand out form the average tech-resume. For positions that have a lot of applicants, standing out would certainly be a good thing. Do make sure you do not overdo it with the flashy-ness. Some of the more elaborate resumes you link (e.g. the floral one) would definitely put you at a disadvantage for a technical role, but the more clean ones (e.g. the 'clean business resume') should be fine.

  • 1
    True, so finding the right balance is a challenge. The overall conclusion I think is that the resumes that the OP linked are too flashy. Commented May 2, 2014 at 18:12

I look for three things when I read a resume:

  1. What did you do?
  2. What can you do for us?
  3. Can you do the job that we need you to do?

The only resume format that I care about is the format that gets me these questions answered within 20 seconds-30 seconds.

I want the resume format to work for me not against me. This means, no fancy words, no thick verbiage, no apologiae, not your autobiography, no braggadoccio - I hate braggadoccio. And no b.s. like "Supervised 600 computers", to which I will ask under my breath "And you did that by yourself?" about two seconds before I toss the resume into the garbage pile. Tell the truth, stick to it and give me no headaches. And b.s. gives me headaches. And I do get annoyed when the format works against me. Make the resume as simple, straightforward, and fast as a hard TKD kick to the head. Don't screw around with optics - they are at best a distraction to me. Keep the colored paper, the fancy fonts, the nice illustrations and pictures to yourself. To give me these is like casting pearls to a swine. And I am the swine from hell :)

In summary, my focus is content. If the content is not there or it is inadequate, that resume flies into the nearest circular file. Keep in mind that I have 50 other things to get done and that reading resumes including yours - and even mine - is definitely not a hobby of mine.

Fill up your resume with content. Review the format so that I can find skills under "SKILLS", work experience under "WORK EXPERIENCE" and education under "EDUCATION". Re-read your resume to make sure that I can go through your resume in 20 seconds-30 seconds. If you want to give me an impression when I read the resume, give me the impression that you are a top notch professional and that you don't screw around. Write your resume to make it easy for me to decide that I want to see more of you - at an interview.

I ask for two things from you:

  1. Don't waste my time.
  2. Don't drive me crazy.

Having said that, I wish the best of luck to you :)


The linked examples are very flashy and distracting from the content, even the one called Clean Design. Also the bars and star ratings of your skills suggest a precision that's probably not given. Are your photography skills really 3.5 and not 3.0? What difference does it make?

Reading a CV you usally get an overall impression but also scan for the buzz words you need for a certain position in mind. Trying to find those informations in the design jungle is impossible.

just my 2 cents.


I agree with the previous two answers and my $0.02 to ad here is that while a good CV with good content without typos and temporal errors gets your foot in the door, that is when I look at additional stuff that is attached with the CV for example, code samples for the position of a senior programmer or link to your best online work goes a long way towards establishing trust on your abilities as well as showcasing your reputation among your online peers in relation to the position that you are applying for.

  • 1
    Hi Low Kian Seong, welcome to The Workplace. On our site, we prefer answers that answer the entire commentary. (A comment on another answer should go in the comments section not the answers section.) I'm not 100% sure this answers the following: "does a slick CV impress, or is it the contents that help?" Would you mind editing to address that in a little more detail? Please see the help center How to Answer section for more guidance. Hope this helps!
    – jmort253
    Commented May 3, 2014 at 15:48

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .