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Ask HN: Resumes that look good but professional too
122 points by kreeWall on Feb 28, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 84 comments
Share the format you use for your resume so that it looks good, but still professional. All of my "creative" friends (graphic designers, marketing people) have cool resumes, but mine is boring. What did you use to make yours look good?

I have had tremendous success with very unorthodox layouts, features and subtle use of colors on my resume via Adobe InDesign.


I used to completely redo my layout every year while I was in school and had success with it. Especially at the collegiate level when many resumes are the same in practice, something new for the recruiter to look at goes a long way.

On quite a few occasions I have walked into an interview and been greeted with some variant of "oh wow so you are the person with the cool resume!" or "we have all been talking about how we love how your resume looks!"

I have never gotten negative feedback on my layouts and the positive feedback has been a huge confidence boost in those interviews.

I spend hours and hours attempting to build a unique layout provides personality and the information needed—this means no pie charts or arbitrary skill ratings. I view the design as a way for me to communicate something about my passion for typography and layout while giving an insight into my personality. I always want my resumes to be friendly and have a clear hierarchy.

I'm still on the fence about using paragraphs instead of bullet-points but it looks so much better with justified paragraphs that I think it is worth the trade-off to stand out in a positive way.

Of course, all of the work into the design goes to waste if you don't write clear, concrete supporting information. Too often I see resumes that contain factual but boring/non-contextualized data. Why did you do X thing? What problem was it solving? How did it solve it? What did YOU do that that was special? Use numbers to give a sense of scope and size.

I honestly have trouble understanding the chronological order of you experiences at first glance, plus they all seem to be given the same importance.

If you really are contacted and complimented over this, I’m puzzled at how the recruiter mind works, I would like a recruiter comment on this.

(This is entirely not directed against you, but towards trying to understand if my way of conceiving resumes has been all wrong so far)

That's totally fair, but not entirely unintentional. I like highlighting the fact that I ran a consulting business throughout high school and college as well as the popularity of some of my side projects. Those have been just as (if not more) valuable as the internships I have had when it came to looking for full-time work.

I haven't updated the layout since I have been at Stack Overflow because I like it and I don't need a resume. If I were to redesign my resume right now it certainly would put more emphasis on the last two years of full-time employment.

Plus, even if it might create some confusion I hope it communicates that I can be trusted to not totally screw up the UI side of things if left by myself haha

I personally like your resume as it included what it needs to be no more, no less. But I have less experience ( only two places I have worked ). If I follow your resume style, my resume probably completed within half of A4. What is your suggestion on this?

Thank you!!

Yeah, that's a question I get a fair amount.

Many people have an instinct to leave things off of their resume because they aren't "professional" or "tech" enough. Do not sell yourself short! If you feel like you don't have enough for your resume, include anything that covers the soft-skills portion. A good first rule of thumb is to look at anything that occupies a lot of your time or did so in the past. There are a lot of skills that apply to any job or social arrangement: time management, initiative, planning, leadership, etc. It is optimal of course to demonstrate those through internships and full-time jobs in your chosen field but there are other ways too. Mowing lawns, working with a club/charity, working at coffee shops, washing windows and volunteering at the library can all demonstrate different important qualities that will translate to a new role. Don't leave them out if you are looking for more things.

The layout needs to be fit to your personal story—not the other way around. If you feel like you still have less content than you would like, use a touch more whitespace or use less terse wording (but not fluff). If you have one major thing you are incredibly proud of, make sure the design reflects that—don't let it sit and have it match all the boring things in visual appearance. I usually go through a bunch of different sketches before I find something I like. It is definitely not "one-size fits all".

There's lots of ways to vary the appearance of something: bolding, italicizing, different font, border, whitespace, color and the position on the page. There's no magic combination but you generally don't want to use more than two or three of the techniques at the same time. If you use too many things will look out of place.

just want to comment how there's so much in such a short time period. jesus you did not waste any time...

I'd say you can lose the GPA now :)

What's the rule of thumb on that? One job post-graduation?

I'm not entirely sure what to fill that space with to balance the line if I remove it haha. Maybe I could expand BS out to Bachelor of Science? Still probably wouldn't look balanced though...

Unless your GPA is super impressive, I'd argue it's not worth bragging about at all. A 3.2 is fine when you're hunting for your first real job. After you've got work experience, I doubt many would care about a GPA. When people did really well, you'll sometimes here them say "I graduated summa cum laude" instead of specifically referencing their GPA.

Cool resume. Boiler up! If you're ever looking for a job back in Indiana hit me up.

Did that layout work before you were in Apple?

I didn't have the exact same layout but it had a similar feel and it was quite successful. The people at Apple as a whole appreciated the unusual resume design more so than any other place I have applied.

It started as something I used as a freshman in college to grab their attention and plead my case before the recruiter realized my age (I also took my graduation date off resumes given in person). I had mixed results but, hey, I was a freshman and getting some conversations was better than none.

OK, thanks! I just wanted to know if it was the design or the big name on resume ;-)

I also "decorate" my CV with e.g. different alphabets of languages I speak and some headhunters told me it's perfect. No issues getting interviews at top companies, smaller ones hesitate more often.

I have used and recommended this LaTeX template [1].

Template that I have also seen being used by many professional software engineers both applying and currently working at some of the big corporations like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon. It is clean, easy to read, easy to parse by most ATS (Application Tracking System) [2].

[1] https://github.com/sb2nov/resume

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applicant_tracking_system

I have to say that resume doesn’t look very good to me. Way too long lines and not enough white space. Maybe that’s part of the strategy though? This whole ATS thing annoys me because it seems like such a shallow way to hire. But maybe that’s what you need to get into Big 5 tech companies now?

For anyone interested in what I’d consider cleaner: here is my Latex resume


I worry now it’s not ATS optimized though.

I also use latex but through emacs org mode.

Great format, simple and easy to read.

Counterpoint: be careful about going too far into the "cool" spectrum. When I've been hiring, the best-looking resumes were often the least qualified. If you're a visual artist, then sure, go nuts! But if you're a technical person then stick to the basics. Forcing someone to decode your pie chart to understand your skills is not a way to win points with a hiring manager. Go for bullet points, short sentences, correct grammar, and no spelling mistakes.

As a hiring manager I've often noticed the same. There's a weak positive correlation between candidate quality and the resume being one page in LaTeX. There's a weak negative correlation between candidate quality and the resume being very graphically fancy. That said, I try to completely forget these correlations when reviewing resumes because it's just not fair to anyone for me to go into the process with preconceptions like those.

For better or worse I index the opposite way. My CV is a markdown doc wrapped in the absolute minimum html/js to render it as a web page. If viewed as text it is perfectly readable sans a single line of css gobldeygook, if viewed as a web page it’s also perfectly readable.

Definitely recommend LaTeX:

- Templates: https://www.rpi.edu/dept/arc/training/latex/resumes/

- For generating the resume, and minor custimizations: https://www.sharelatex.com/

- For generating the resume, and advanced customization: http://pages.uoregon.edu/koch/texshop/

I've used latex but now I realize html/css might do the job better for me...

I’ve adapted mine from from someone else doing this. Although I’m not front-end savvy I’ve found it easy to develop, live reload helps. Prints to PDF with a nice readable style sheet.

Source: https://github.com/prashnts/prashnts.github.io/tree/develop/... Resume: https://noop.pw/resume

I know this is possibly going a bit too far, but learning the basics of typography/design goes a long way.

https://practicaltypography.com is a pretty nice introduction on the topic, but overall, if there's any one major thing to keep in mind,

It's this:

Use white space.

The difference between something that looks thrown together and something that looks professional often come down to simply giving a shit about where text is and where text isn't. Does it look good? No? Try again.

Beyond that, don't go crazy with fonts. Two-maybe three weights/variants of one typeface will probably be sufficient -- I've generally found it's a lot easier for an amateur to make things that don't suck when they aren't trying to pair fonts.

I want to second this. The number one problem with resumes is that they all focus on the positive space: craming as much text and non-data-ink onto the page as possible.

Let your main point breathe.

Also: use a professional typeface. Recruiters look at Times New Roman, Arial, and Computer Modern all day. Try Avenir, Garamond, or San Francisco. Maybe even pay for a font license.

> And fi­nally, font choice. The fastest, eas­i­est, and most vis­i­ble im­prove­ment you can make to your ty­pog­ra­phy is to ig­nore the fonts that came free with your com­puter (known as sys­tem fonts) and buy a pro­fes­sional font (like my fonts eq­uity and con­course, or oth­ers found in font rec­om­men­da­tions). A pro­fes­sional font gives you the ben­e­fit of a pro­fes­sional de­signer’s skills with­out hav­ing to hire one.


I use html and css, I like its simplicity yet elegant look.

https://johnleung.com/resume (pdf format is linked there as well)

Template originally used by https://resume.stavros.io/ Which seems like he's not using anymore. His current one looks good too.

Psst, I think you meant "Principal", not "Principle". :)


Hey, thanks much! Appreciate it ;)

No prob. I only know because someone had to point it out to me once before. :)

I enjoyed your reversi game.

Thanks ;) planning to do a show hn on it soon.

I'm still using the same one too! http://fzakaria.com/documents/resume/

It gets annoying to justify and align the paragraphs though.

Hey, thanks for pointing out where the template came from, I never knew.

It could be as simple as this guy's -> http://ananthakumaran.in/resume.html

Here is my resume: https://standardresume.co/rileyt

It's built using Standard Resume [1], a tool that I built with two designers to answer exactly this question.

I would love any feedback on the resume style, as we are contemplating adding a few alternate styles to choose from.

[1] https://standardresume.co/

This is a great tool!

I noted, though, that the Linkedin import didn't seem to work flawlessly – after uploading, I was redirected to the resume list and I have no clue of what actually happened.

Would you like more feedback?

sorry about that. linkedin changed their pdf export a bit yesterday and it broke our import. should be fixed today or tomorrow.

would love any other feedback you have. did you end up completing a resume?

Mine was made from a google docs template. I think it looks really sleek and has fairly worked for me so far.

The only problem is that when I add new stuff, I have to keep adjusting it so that it all fits in one page


Many people have asked about mine and given it compliments, so here it is. It is a responsive website with some printing styles and a link to the pdf (which is just a "print to file" of itself). Consider code/style as MIT/CC0:


This is a reeeealllly nice layout.

My one page is similar[1].

Not as nice but editable in the browser[2].

[1] http://docs.xstatic.site/markdown_03605910-12e8-4aef-a145-43...

[2] http://docs.xstatic.site/ or http://public.docs.xstatic.site/

FYI -occasional has two c's.

Thanks! It doesn't have it in Spanish: "ocasional". Should have checked better.

I'll add my personal LaTeX template to the pile. I think it looks pretty snappy and I've gotten compliments on it before.


How about a degree in underwater basket weaving?

Fun stuff!

Be really careful with some of the graphically rich resumes. If in a creative field and you are pretty sure if will only be looked at by a human, use it. If applying to Fortune 1000, there is a good chance yours will be ingested by an applicant tracking system (ATS). Not all resume parsers work well on these fancy resumes. I have frustrated clients, on the job search quite a while, who come to me with edit jobs for a lot of simplification so their response rates to go up. Additionally be careful with some of the "progress bars" or "pie charts" of skills. How does a prospective employer gauge the competency of an applicant with 3 bars a opposed to 4 in Adobe Photoshop, as an example?

I don't want to post mine, but I just followed Clippy's advice on what would look good.

A bunch of LaTeX templates to do the job: http://www.latextemplates.com/cat/curricula-vitae

Disclosure: my site.

Advice on Resumes...

Keep it short. As short as possible anyway.

Keep it readable. Plug what you write into Microsoft Word, or some other tool that measures readability, and aim for like a 9th grade reading level. Grammarly can help.

Keep it relevant. Use a tool like JobScan to make sure the keywords line up. Why? Because recruiters are lazy and use these tools to sift through the applicants.

Talk about your achievements, using numbers. Not: I did the thing everyone with the role does... Instead: I wrote code that improved page load weights by 50% and times by 75% using Foo and Var for website that got 20M views a month; this will save BumbleCo over $7M next 24 months in AWS charges.

List some reviews. Don't assume they're going to go to your LinkedIn. People are lazy. Recruiters are people. HR generally doesn't know anything about the subject matter at hand, and can only read into personality, accolades, and "culture" fit. Your first goal is to get past them.

* Resume of First Last (Template) - Google Docs || https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YvUmlAKF-mlx2zNDITfV_VWC...

I have one created for one of my friend. You can download it here if you want. https://www.dropbox.com/s/zjxj13z5j6ra2x2/cv.doc?dl=0

Sample [Image]: https://imgur.com/a/1Ldov

I used Google Docs. Boring is OK, it's more important that the critical info is easy to find (e.g. it is well laid out and easy to read).

'Good' is in the eye of the beholder and sometimes the psychology is not what you think it is. Sometimes content really is king.

If you have a key skill that is in demand then you can have a very old CV, not updated for years, in some old text only format on some database somewhere, and still get the work with no problems.

This I manage to do, with a CV that lists projects done with dates, but with no alphabet soup of skills, no mention of what I might do in my spare time and no fancy colours. Oh, and no Github either and certainly not on LinkedIn.

Ultimately CVs end up in some database that is text only to all intents and purposes. The goal is to get the interview and if you are dealing with recruiters then they look for different things and probably only ever send a mangled text only version of your CV to the client.

So there is reverse psychology in not being apparently available. Sometimes employers want the employee that is already spoken for and too busy working to have such a thing as an up to date CV.

I had an Ask HN about a subject very similar to this a few weeks ago, and got a lot of great feedback, which may help you! Thank you HN. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16146660

I used to work for a resume building startup and I still think their product is one of the best in the market :) But what I liked about it was the focus on real world successful examples and inline tips that were actually useful - https://enhancv.com

I’m a dev myself, but I liked to chat with some customers and some had amazing stories like “landed a job at spotify thanks to your resume” or “wanted to drop several k dollars on a consultant, but liked this tool so much I just used it instead”. Great stuff :) And as a testiment to them I used the resume I built with the tool to find my next job :-D

I designed a resume many moons ago in ruby and it was super unconventional https://github.com/metacritical/mycv/blob/master/Myresume.pd...

It got me interview at hacker friendly unconventional companies while most Enterprisy or non hacker friendly companies rejected it , some complained they dont want to compile the ruby code to get the resume. Two companies where i applied one was C42.in and other ThoughtWorks were among the only two companies which actually compiled the code. and then gave a call back.

I'm not a developer, but I tried to assemble a personal webpage on http://costantini.pw .

The CV is linked there too.

I believe white spaces play an important role

That's my take: http://costantini.pw/images/0_Giovanni%20Costantini%20_%20we...

Serious question: what do you think about including magic the gathering PTs and Worlds participations as a teenager in the CV? Given that it is for a programming role maybe people in the US would see that as a sort of acomplishment? I come from a non english speaking country so my university and companies where I've worked are largely unknown (and I'd like to apply for remote jobs in the US or EU)

You could include it in a hobbies section or something at the bottom. Most hiring managers would not view it as a relevant accomplishment.

My resume[1] was designed on ShareLatex[2], though I am biased because I did the re-design for ShareLatex, so I think it's a good product for building a resume.

[1] https://conradadam.com/img/resume.pdf

[2] https://www.sharelatex.com

Mine made with HTML + CSS. I made it sure that the whole page fits in a A4 Size so that I can easily export it as a PDF to be shared with recruiters. I also make sure to send the URL of my resume (https://veerasundar.com/resume/) along with the PDF. (bit outdated, though! :)


My resume is, admittedly, overboard. I created it back when I needed to stand out. I used InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop.

I just used this template: https://www.careercup.com/resume

It is not very creative, but I believe it shows a great space management and certainly looks professional. It is very similar to some other CVs already mentioned. I've used only the Microsoft Word template, but there is in LaTeX.

I made mine with plain HTML JS and CSS it's available on GitHub and here http://leepenkman.appspot.com it hasn't costed me anything to host and is running inside a Google app engine free teir, I made it print friendly so you can control p print it if someone wants a PDF

The simpler the better. Prioritize readability over visual coolness. (Unless you're in a design field.)

Even if you are in a design field. If you can't make it both cool and readable, you aren't that good.

Agreed, but I'm not sure whether the hiring norms go along with that principle.

Notepad.exe makes beautiful looking .txt files. That's the format I use when I can get away with it.

I like a little creativity, it also tells me if a recruiter actually clicked in the link. People either love it or don’t really care...


I hate it. When I'm hiring, I have 100s of CVs to look at, and on my first sweep, every CV gets no more than 30 seconds. Your website takes too long for me to figure out, so I pass on it. Life's too short. (I'm guessing it's not the first time someone has said this to you, though, so good on you for keeping it.)

It's just a little slow, the website was probably getting hit quite a bit.

But thank you, based on your comments, I wouldn't want to work for your organization or ones that you are hiring for. I get job interviews on the website alone, so thanks I'm doing fine. Basically the website is recruiter repelant.

FWIW, the navigation buttons in the lower right aren't working for me in either Firefox or Chromium. I can't figure out how to get the webpage to show me anything other than the titlecard:

      Chad Humphrey
  A click & show resume
    Sr. PHP Developer
Not that interactive resumes are always something to avoid (I couldn't say - I've never been handed such a resume in the hiring process), but I think this is a great example of the risks associated with them.

Navigation is lower right corner, which you might have already known. Other wise it might be an ad blocker issue? Thanks

I don't know. What do you think of mine? https://www.dropbox.com/s/ymufgb9ma392mhf/EN_201802_Catalfam...

I have to admit, a resume that lists superpowers is easy to remember.

Latex with careful tuning of line spacing, column width, etc.

I don't like resumes that are too slick looking. It makes me feel like the applicant is trying to hide something.

On other hand, a truly ugly resume hurts the applicant. There's a sweet spot in the middle.

I've gotten some compliments on mine. It's a mod of a popular LaTex template.


Check out https://www.resumonk.com

Disclosure: I'm the Co-Founder of Resumonk.

I use a pure ASCII txt. You can make dividers by repeating a character like '#', but i don't really use such eye-candy.

Hah, I like you.

The last time I just exported my linkedin profile to pdf. It worked quite well, but I wonder how this practice is generally perceived.

Combination of LinkedIn and MS Word for Mac.

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