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    Graphic Resume Design Strategies & Software for Resume Writing (TORI Q&A)

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    Graphic Resume Design Strategies and Best Software for Resume Writing design and the TORI awardsBefore the TORI resume writing awards added classic design categories this year, one of the winning techniques of resume writers was to use graphic resume design strategies. However, when some resume writers look at the winning resumes, they think it takes advanced skill or special software to do.

    But, here’s what we know about graphic resume design strategies is that they:

    • Work effectively in the real job market to help job seekers stand out from the competition.
    • Can be made to be ATS-compatible.
    • Don’t require you to use special software to create them.

    We reached out to former TORI award winners and heard from 12 on:

    Graphic Resume Design Strategies and the Best Software to Use.

    Meet the respondents:

    Laura Smith-Proulx

    Laura Smith-Proulx

    Tiffany Hardy

    Marlene Cole
    New Generation Careers

    Marie Plett

    Marie Plett

    Cheryl Lynch Simpson

    Cheryl Lynch Simpson

    Lucie Yeomans

    Lucie Yeomans
    Your Career Ally

    Melanie L. Denny

    Melanie L. Denny


    Rachel (Vander Pol) Raymond Headshot

    Rachel Raymond

    Angela Watts

    Gayle Howard

    Gayle Howard

    TORI Award Winners Answer Your Resume Writing Competition Question:

    Graphic Resume Design Strategies: What graphic and layout techniques are your favorite to use in your entries? Do you use any special software, and if so, what?

    I only use Microsoft Word (2007) believe it or not! I really like borders and shading as well as inserting shapes.– Marlene Cole

    For graphics, I use a variety of fonts and shapes in Word. For graphs and charts I use Excel as a starting point and I will then enhance to match the colors and fonts in the document. Sometimes I’ll use Paint to enhance something, but I am not highly skilled in that tool.– Marla Emery, ACRW, ACC

    I use Word exclusively. I like layering shapes. In fact, I like layering shapes so much that if the original resume includes a chart using Word’s chart/graph feature, I’ll often re-create the chart with shapes and lines for the TORI so I can precisely control the distance between each item. I rarely do this for clients’ resumes because it puts a lot of pressure on a single Word document, which can make it unstable for the client in the future. But for the TORIs, I often build each box, each line, each number individually and layer them together. To me, it’s like playing with puzzles. I can’t help myself—I enjoy it.

    I’m not a fan of using designs, logos, backgrounds, etc. from the internet. I have grabbed a picture of a world map or globe once or twice, but otherwise, I like to keep things original. When I have a design in mind, I’ll get a fresh cup of coffee, roll up my sleeves, and figure out how to make it myself.– Anonymous

    Most of my designs are based on simple shapes in Word. You can do so much with simple technique and a bit of creativity.– Tiffany Hardy, MS, CERM, NCOPE, ACRW

    I use only features available in Word, other than an occasional graphic created using Canva. Most of my favorites include text boxes, particularly where I can add a quote or element that won’t detract from the essential writing and style of the document. Also, I believe color selection is key, and that requires only my imagination!– Laura Smith-Proulx, CPRW, CCMC, NCOPE

    I use Word for about 80% of my graphic and layout techniques – SmartArt, WordArt, icons, and shapes for the most part. I also often use DepositPhotos, Canva, Paint, and PowerPoint charts/graphs.– Lucie Yeomans, CGRA, CPRW, NCOPE, CEIC, OPNS, JCTC, JCDC

    I love the use of shading, lines, icons, shapes and shadow effects. I do everything in MS Word and I may use Canva to pull in a graphic. I don’t use any fancy programs like Photoshop. I also try to keep it as simple as possible for a client to make tweaks, which is why I try not to make it so complicated.– Melanie L. Denny, MBA, NCOPE, CPRW

    I like to create a custom look for the top of the resume in the form of photos, a logo, or other design elements. The only software I use in addition to MS Word is Canva, which I occasionally use for logos.

    I also like to look for creative ways to showcase “routine” details that can bog a resume down. For example, using icons to describe a company’s size, revenue, locations, etc.– Cheryl Lynch Simpson, CMRW, ACRW

    My preference is to create AT-friendly masterpieces by creating highly designed headers, subheaders, and footers, and placing them behind the text. To do this, I primarily use MS Word, MS Paint, and Adobe Photoshop. Sometimes I use Adobe Illustrator.– Marie Plett, CERM, CPRW, BFA

    I may use Adobe Illustrator to design the header but other than that, it’s all Microsoft Word.– Rachel Raymond, CERM, CCST, ACRW, NCOPE

    I used Word for all of my entries. I enjoy incorporating graphs, charts and visual images that will convey a key value point quickly.– Angela Watts, SHRM-CP, RACR, CCTC

    I do like using infographics to highlight big numbers and simply use Word to do that.– Gayle Howard, CMRW, CERM, CGRA, CARW, CRS+IT, CWPP, CPBS, CG3C, CTTC, CCCM, MCD, CONS

    Do the New 2021 Classic Design Categories Shift This Dynamic in the TORI Awards?

    The introduction of classic design categories make fancy graphic design skills unnecessary for those categories. However, graphic resume design strategies have been helping job seekers stand out against competition since they came into play in the late 90s. They can be made ATS-compatible as our member tutorials demonstrate so it is possible to give clients the best of both worlds in the resume you create for them.

    Even in the classic design category resumes need to be visually attractive, so it’s good to know that everything can be done in MS Word, with an image pulled out of Canva here and there.

    The TORIs Are Still the #1 Highest ROI, Lowest Cost Way to Grow Your Resume Business

    TOR winners and nominees experience tremendous success in gaining new business as a result of this recognition. That’s why so many winners enter year after year because they understand the ROI of elevating and showcasing the service they do for a living.

    Regardless of your goal, we’ve seen the TORIs make a difference — from letting you niche to your ideal clients or having that added bonus that closes a corporate transition assistance contract. Winning or getting nominated will expand your playing field. Just entering will allow you to focus on honing your skills to hit the mark.

    Remember, the new classic design categories make it easy for any skilled professional resume writer to enter.

    Don’t miss this! Registrations are accepted until 12 AM Pacific on Friday, July 16, 2021. This means, don’t go to bed on Thursday without registering first!

    Learn More About the TORI Awards

    Learn about the competition & new classic resume categories >>

    Additional Resources

    Access video tutorial & lessons on resume writing >>

    Graphic Resume Design and ATS with Marie Plett (Q&A Video Lesson) >>

    How to Design ATS-Friendly Graphic Resumes with Marie Plett (Video Master Class) >>

    Not yet a CDI member? Check out these free lessons >>


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