Since the résumé is a marketing document, first impressions count. The first time a recruiter sees your document, he or she will probably scan it briefly. If your résumé does not look professional and appealing, the reader will pass. A thoughtfully designed résumé that takes advantage of creative elements will differentiate you from the rest.

 Ensure the Right Résumé Size

In the past, most Canadians created one or two-page résumé. These days, we often see longer documents from highly experienced and senior-level professionals. Your résumé is a marketing document and you have a specific amount of information to share. In some cases, this means creating a three or four-page document. Keep in mind that "less is more." So, if you can create a résumé using fewer words and fewer pages, then do it.

In Canada, the format for page size is letter format (8.5" x 11"). No matter how many pages you use, ensure that there is lost of white space throughout the document. This technique greatly helps the look and feel of your résumé. You can use a wide outside margin and increase the spacing between lines and sections to create a light and fresh look to the page.

When designing your résumé, ensure that each page has adequate white space, but also includes enough wording to look well-composed. If you have only a few lines wrapping onto an extra page, consider eliminating some information or redesigning your résumé to fill fewer pages.

If you are using multiple pages, put your complete contact information on the first page. Include a short header with your name, phone number, and page number on the following page. This will ensure that the reader will not inadvertently mix up pages or lose pages without realizing it.

Design a Creative Document 

To produce a truly captivating résumé, you must be able to take full advantage of the features in your word processing program. Most individuals create their documents in Microsoft Word. If you do not have access to this program or do not know it well, it is best to ask a friend or colleague to design your résumé using this application, especially if you intend to e-mail the fully formatted Word document to recruiters. 

Avoid using the templates that come with your Microsoft Word application. They are used so often, recruiters might bypass them.

You want to make it easier for recruiters to find your résumé in a stack of documents. Craft an original résumé from scratch so that it will stand out in the pile.

There are many ways to add creative design to your résumé. The first is to select a font that is easy to read and that others have on their computers. Some popular and commonly used fonts are Times New Roman, Arial, Bookman Old Style, and Verdana. Depending on the font you select, 10-12 point size is usually the best choice. It is best to avoid the use of elaborate or fancy fonts because of many recruiters will not have access to them or they may be difficult to read on-screen. 

Stand Out With Unique Features

To design a unique document, take advantage of the many features that Word offers. You can create a distinctive document by emphasizing words in bold, italics, and underlines. Use this technique sparingly, though. Select only the most important things that you want to highlight to the reader. The idea is to make your résumé an attractive document and not just a mass of advanced formatting.

Decorative lines, charts, and bullets can be appropriate in the right situation. Take advantage of specialized Word features such as tables, character spacing, line spacing tab stops, justification, text, boxes, borders, and shading. Include interesting bullets, not just the standard ones that come up. Try using a clever bullet design that you can use throughout your résumé.

Use a logo, image, watermark, or monogram in your résumé only if it is appropriate and adds value to the overall look of your document. A graphic that fist in with a specific industry or field may be just what your résumé needs to make it stand out. Try to avoid quirky or loud design because they may detract focus from the content of your résumé. You want to appear professional - not wacky or strange

Create a Consistent Theme 

To ensure readability, your résumé must not only be attractive but must also be consistent throughout. When you select a "look" or "theme," stick with it. Every section that you use should look similar to the previous section. Use a comparable structure in each category that you discuss. When you select design elements such as a special format for the headers or a line separating section, use that element every time you start a new section. Using this system will show the reader that you made an extra effort to think about the professional style and theme you want to portray in your résumé.

Use Colour Effectively 

These days, many résumés employ colour as a distinguishing strategy. Many of the samples presented in this book were originally designed in colour to create interest and emphasize certain points. You can do this well.

Clearly, colour can be used in the most effective way, but the use of multiple colours in a résumé can be tricky. If you add colour to your résuné, be subtle. It is very easy to go "over the top" and distract the reader instead of drawing them in. It is best to select only one or two colours to complement the résumé.

Be warned that if you go too far with, colour, it is very likely that the reader will test everything else in your résumé with an extra critical eye. The best test you can use it to open your "résumé" as if you have never looked at it before. If the document comes across an even a bit embellished, then you probably have gone too far. When it comes to résumé, toned down is always better. 

You can see colour samples on htpp://

Creative Design Checklist 

  • Résumé includes creative design elements.
  • The document is sized appropriately
  • A word processing template was not used
  • Résumé is unique in design
  • The theme of the document is consistent
  • Résumé uses colour effectively 
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