My resume (typeset with XeTeX) spans an entire US letter page, with small margins on either side. It's generally accepted that this is bad for readability, and I want people to be able to read my resume. Therefore, I was thinking that I could increase the margins and make the resume two pages instead, improving readability. However, I believe that these narrow margins and long lines are pretty standard, especially given the large number of people that typeset their resumes with a word processor, which have poor defaults for readability.

I am a software engineer with a strong interest in design, and I work on UIs a lot, so readability is something that I care about and is relevant to my job. In addition to the subtle effects of improved readability, which may go unnoticed (good design choices often do), a prospective interviewer might think "oh, this person gets typography", or they might think something like "this person is trying to pad the length of their resume" or "why is this person's resume layed out so differently?". Which is more likely?

  • 1
    For those averse to TLAs, WRT stands for "with regard to"...
    – user44108
    Nov 3 '16 at 14:14
  • 1
    To convey your interest/experience in UIs and typography, you should use relevant keywords and cite relevant education and experience. Spell these out in your C.V. Don't assume someone will admire your typeset document and think "oh, this person gets typography!"
    – Brandin
    Nov 3 '16 at 14:25
  • I don't think that it looks good, and am thinking of deviating from the standard format to make it look good.
    – so2
    Nov 3 '16 at 14:55
  • @Brandin it is quite possible that the CV will first be triaged by software, and if the keyword typography is not in the text, then the CV may be reteced and never be seen by a human being. Nov 3 '16 at 18:10
  • @Mawg I don't think that I want to work anywhere than scans resumes like that right now, so it doesn't worry me.
    – so2
    Nov 3 '16 at 20:44

As always with resumes, the answer is

It depends

Your design choice depends on what role you're targeting. If the job is design focussed, then give them a well-designed resume. If it's for a software engineer, make it readable. Regardless, the person reading the resume has to "get you" within the first ten seconds or so, otherwise it might end up on the "no" pile. Recruiters see a lot of resumes, make things easy for them to maximise your chances.

There's a case in point - if your resume is being seen by a recruiter, they won't "get" your design angle and any design/typography detail will be lost on them.

Here in the UK, recruitment agencies will strip out the main details before passing information onto the client - you'll just lose all of your hard work right there (recruiters don't want to send your contact details to the client).

So, I'd put design elements in if you're pitching directly for a design based vacancy.

  • I would never use a third-party recruiter, but I think it makes sense to stick to one page so that they don't need to flip (bad UX) to read everything. Perhaps I will experiment with columns.
    – so2
    Nov 3 '16 at 20:42

software engineer with a strong interest in design

Interesting, then if that's the story you tell in your resume, I as a hiring manager of developers would be binning it.

The industry has gradually got the idea that people will use different devices with different capabilities, this is what's led to what they call "responsive design", which adapts across the different devices to provide a consistent view (paper being one such device).

Now, from what you say you are back in the 90s, using XeTeX to define your doc in some hard set way. A design-influenced engineer in my mind would be making something that looks good in a text file, surely the best responsive tool (flowing text, small file size, fairly cross platform/os).

I'll also hark back to my other answers that say as soon as you put your XeTeX powered resume on the majority of ATS (Application Tracking Systems) the initial auto-screening for keywords will fail and you'll be filed in the wastebasket. Also given you need to tune the resume for just about every role you apply to you are creating a rod for your own back.

There's also a good chance (from experience) that if you pass the ATS, the HR drone will do a copy/paste of your hard worked doc into an email (or worse, have had pasted then faxed in fairly recent memory), and all your effort will never be seen by the hiring manager.

So simplify, and concentrate on what you say, less on what it looks like.

  • Hmm. I think we're in different markets - I'm mostly applying (or being recruited by) to places where my first point of contact is someone on the engineering team's email address. They've always had the PDF that I sent over as-is, so I don't think this will be an issue for me.
    – so2
    Nov 3 '16 at 20:41
  • No having worked in both UK and North America it's very common. Once you apply via a portal (taleo - shudder!) you'll see what I mean. Also once you deal with a recruitment agency they'll expect Word so they can put it into their own format, again very common, speaking as both hired and hiring manager over 20+ years in software. Nov 3 '16 at 23:14

If you haven't done it already, put some key words in bold. These long lines happen when you describe not only your job titles, but also concrete responsibilities and results on the resume. These lines are not very readable, but if a few bold words per job description can grab the readers attention, he will want to know the details.


You only two options are not

  1. Decrease Margins, Maintain 1 Page
  2. Increase Margins, Add a Page

There is also

  1. Increase Margins, Maintain 1 Page.

When I last worked on my resume, I spent a LOT of time on layout, wording, messaging, etc to maximize the relevant content while maintaining 1 page. Resulting in stuff I would have liked to keep hitting the cutting room floor. At the same time, that also forced me to focus my resume, reduce wordiness, etc.

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