The Pitfalls of Overdesigning Your Executive Resume: Why Less Is Often More”

a cute graphic design logo.

A question came across my desk this week that made me pause: “Would you mind if I take your well-crafted words and let my graphic designer friend jazz them up?” While the query was well-intentioned, it underscored a fundamental misunderstanding many people have about the recruitment process. Remember, it’s not the company’s brand that’s evaluating your resume—it’s human resources and recruiters, each with their own set of criteria.

Why a Graphically Designed Resume May Not Impress

Let’s get something straight—your resume is not a playground for elaborate design schemes. Particularly for senior executives, a resume is a formal, strategic document meant to convey your professional story, not an artsy showcase.

Know Your Audience

Understanding your audience is key to any successful job application. Initially, your resume will be scrutinized by HR personnel or recruitment consultants. Their focus is not on aesthetics but on qualifications and relevant experience. Your resume, stripped of its flair, must stand on the strength of its content.

Text Boxes Can Backfire

One common design element that can wreak havoc on your resume’s efficacy is the text box. In many Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), text boxes get converted into images, rendering the text unsearchable. A resume that can’t be parsed by ATS is a resume that can’t progress to the next round.

Format Matters

Submitting your resume in the universally accepted Microsoft Word format is a must. If your friend is set on redesigning your resume, they’d better be an expert in Word’s complexities.

System Incompatibilities

Once you’ve sent your artfully designed resume, you’re at the mercy of the recipient’s computer settings. Variations in software versions can distort your formatting, requiring time-consuming revisions. And let’s not forget, you still run the risk of ATS stripping all your text.

The Infographic Dilemma

If you’re firmly attached to your infographic resume, you might consider reaching out directly to the hiring manager to inquire about PDF submissions. But understand that you’re taking a risk—one that might not pay off.


While branding is important in the marketplace, when it comes to your resume, conservatism is your best strategy. Even if you’re eyeing roles at companies celebrated for their creativity, such as Apple, Google, or Nike, understand that their hiring processes are governed by a different set of rules.



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About Gayle Howard

If you are interested in working with Gayle Howard—an executive resume writer, Certified Master Resume Writer, multi-award-winning resume writer, and Master LinkedIn profile writer, drop her a line now using the contact form at the link above. Gayle can help you get interviews for your dream job and bring the world of business to you by maximizing your exposure and connections on LinkedIn.