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How Much Does CV Design Matter for IT Resumes?


When it comes to resumes, you’ll commonly find tons of templates with fancy borders and graphics on the internet. At least one resume writer will tell you that if you submit a resume in a minimal format, you’re likely living under a rock and that the norm is to submit graphically enriched resumes. While this may be a popular belief, this isn’t necessarily true. Irrespective of the industry or job position, the content of a CV should always take precedence over its design. It’s wise to avoid overly graphical templates, except when applying for creative roles. Additionally, ensuring a modern appearance by steering clear of dated elements, such as the ubiquitous Times New Roman font, is essential for leaving a professional impression.

According to the Ladders’ Eye-Tracking Study, recruiters spend an average 7.4 seconds to scan one resume. With limited time to review each one, they rely heavily on the first page of a CV to gauge a candidate’s suitability for the role. Thus, the content presented on this initial page must be strategically optimised to catch the recruiter’s attention. Key elements such as functional job titles, a well-crafted career overview, and tailored key achievements play a pivotal role in making a strong first impression. Without these critical components, even the most aesthetically pleasing design falls short in capturing the recruiter’s interest.

While a visually appealing CV may initially catch the eye, it’s the substance within that sustains interest and prompts further consideration. Fancy designs, excessive white spaces, icons and other graphics can inadvertently detract from the core content of the resume. Additionally, these resumes are often difficult to parse by the ATS. In essence, an overemphasis on design at the expense of content risks undermining the effectiveness of the document as a whole. Recruiters value clarity, coherence, and relevance above all else, making it imperative for applicants to prioritise content and hierarchy in their CVs.

Design-centred roles are the exception to the rule. It’s essential to recognize that the layout of a CV can provide insight into the candidate’s mindset and communication abilities. A cluttered document with varying font sizes and extensive blocks of text may inadvertently create a negative impression, suggesting difficulties in presenting ideas clearly or building relationships. Similarly, an overly dense and detailed CV might imply a lack of ability to communicate concisely, which could be problematic when managing stakeholders.. Additionally, outdated presentation styles may hint at resistance to new ideas or being stuck in old ways. Errors and formatting inconsistencies directly indicate a lack of attention to detail, or even worse, haste or laziness. While these assumptions may not always hold true, they can influence subconscious perceptions. Therefore, candidates should strive for a clean, organised layout that reflects professionalism and clarity of communication.

A properly formatted CV demonstrates professionalism and attention to detail, traits that are universally valued in the workplace. Adhering to industry standards regarding layout, font choice, and overall presentation showcases the candidate’s understanding of professional norms and expectations. It also ensures that the CV is easily readable and navigable, facilitating a smoother review process for recruiters.

Striking the right balance between design and content is key to creating an effective resume. While a visually appealing layout may pique initial interest, it’s the substance of the CV that ultimately determines its success. By prioritising content on the first page and adhering to industry standards for design, candidates can maximise their chances of making a positive impression on recruiters.

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Ben Wood
Ben Wood

Career Coach, CV Writer, CV Writers + ITCV Writers Practice Manager - Tech and Executive Profile Specialist

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