TAP In with Tristan : Pros & Cons of Overly Designed Resume Formats

Tristan Layfield discusses why overly designed resume formats might be holding you up in your job search and how you can use them to your advantage.

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Tristan: What’s going on, Living Corporate? It’s Tristan, and I want to thank you for tapping back in with me as I provide some tips and advice for professionals. This week let’s discuss why overly designed resume formats might be holding you up in your job search and how you can use them to your advantage.

All of us have seen them, those visually appealing resume formats. They typically have 2 columns, really cool fonts, a large infusion of color, icons, and some even have pictures. They do exactly what they were designed to do, which is catch your eye. But there’s another thing they get caught by, and that’s applicant tracking systems.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I used to create some designed formats for clients at the beginning of my career. But I have since learned of some of the pitfalls and changed how I create those documents. I want to share a couple of them with you in hopes that you can avoid the mistakes too.

Many applicant tracking systems scan your document from left to right, meaning the two columns can sometimes create confusion when the system tries to parse through your information. These systems also have a hard time processing images and icons, which can sometimes get your resume thrown into the no pile before it even gets to your content. Not to mention, you should avoid having a picture of yourself on your resume anyway because it can open you up to discrimination and unnecessary scrutiny. The cool font can also raise another issue if you have to submit the Word version of your document and the recruiter or hiring manager’s computer system doesn’t have that font. Your entire format could be thrown off, sometimes rendering it impossible to read. These are just some of the reasons why I typically advise my clients to avoid overly formatted resumes, that is, unless they know how to use them.

Now, all of that doesn’t mean that these documents can’t serve a purpose. I typically suggest that people have a streamlined one-column resume format that they utilize for applying and take the same content and put it in one of the designed formats. Then, once you land the interview, you can send it over as a statement piece letting the visual aesthetics help you stand out. Those formats are also great when you are handing or emailing the document directly to a contact, recruiter, or hiring manager since you don’t have to go through the ATS. Just be sure to send the resume as a PDF if you’re emailing it to preserve your formatting!

Thanks for tapping in with me today! Don’t forget; I’m now taking submissions from you all on career questions, issues, concerns, or advice you think may help others! So make sure to submit yours at bit.ly/tapintristan.

This tip is brought to you by Tristan of Layfield Resume Consulting. Check us out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @layfieldresume or connect with me, Tristan Layfield, on LinkedIn.

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