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Incorporating Design Elements into Your Executive Resume

By April 8, 2018Resumes

As an executive, you know quality when you see it. Whether it’s a potential new hire, a business acquisition, or an innovative product, your experience, intuition, and the ever-present ‘spidey senses’ can intuitively tell quality products from not-so-quality products. First impressions matter but as you dig deeper, the quality of the content and the format in which it’s presented is also important. This same concept can be applied to your executive resume.

Content matters, but so does design.

If you’re unsure whether to incorporate design elements into your executive resume, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Yes, content is King, but …

Accomplishments, successes, roles, and responsibilities are still immensely important content on your resume, after all you’ve done some amazing things in your career and the goal of a resume is to showcase those accomplishments in the best way possible. Sometimes two lines of text is effective, but in other cases, a clean graphic can also communicate the same information in a more compelling way.

Incorporating design elements into your executive resume can be a great asset to the first impression it makes on the reader. Subtle, yet effective, design elements can be just as effective. Your design can speak to your personality – if you’re in a strong leadership role and a strong D on the DiSC assessment, a powerful resume design can work great for you. If your personality is subtler, or if the industry you’re applying to is more conservative or traditional, a clean and classic design can still do wonders to help you stand out above the competition.

A professional executive resume writer can help you determine the style of your resume for your personality and industry.

 Incorporating Design Elements

 If you’re comfortable adding design elements into your resume, here are a few elements to consider:

  • Top 1/3 of the Page: any professional resume writer worth their fee will tell you that the top third of the first page is the most important part of a resume. Adding compelling graphics that help tell your leadership story will do wonders for the reader’s first impression.

  • Borders, Shading & Call-Out Boxes: We talked about this our last article link here, but it’s always good to have a refresher. Adding borders and shading is an excellent way to not only bring elegance to your resume, but they also tell the reader’s eye where to go next. Call-out boxes immediately draw the reader’s eye to your value like the same below.


  • Charts & Tables: Well-organised and easy-to-read charts and tables can cleanly and quickly convey a lot of information in a small amount of space. From revenue growth and cost savings to skills strength and core competencies, when you incorporate these graphics, your reader will be able to quickly assess your capabilities.



  • Logo & Images: What if your resume had its own logo? While this doesn’t involve hiring a graphic designer, including a graphic image of your initials or a sophisticated industry-specific design can help jazz up your resume in a new way.

The goal of a resume is to explicitly present your abilities, leadership, and accomplishments in such a way as to ensure the reader wants to give you a call for an interview. Incorporating some elements of graphic design makes a great first impression and put you ahead of your competition.

Note: It’s important to also have a resume that is optimised for applicant tracking systems. You really need 2 versions of your executive resume, an ATS optimised version to be used for all online applications and a design resume for interviews, handing out within your network and taking to interviews.  

Need help? At Total Resumes, we create brand-driven, achievement-focused documents for clients worldwide. With a 98% client interview-winning success rate, we are well-placed to help with your career advancement. Check some of our work here:

Author Carolyn Whitfield

6X TORI-Winning, Multi-Certified Resume Master & Coach ★ 12+ Yrs Expertise ★ 98% Client Interview-Winning Success Rate. As an executive resume expert who has carved a strong reputation in the resume industry, I’ve helped thousands of rising stars and executives worldwide ascend to the next step on the career ladder.

More posts by Carolyn Whitfield

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