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How To Create a Dynamic, Contemporary Resume

Updated : July 14th, 2022

Contemporary Resume

You may think of a resume as a no-nonsense, text-heavy document with little personality. But in today’s business environment, many employers welcome a more creative touch. If you want to use a contemporary resume style in your next career move, follow these proven approaches.

5 Tips for Creating a Dynamic, Contemporary Resume

  1. Choose a Multi-Column Format
  2. Include Eye-Catching Headers
  3. Style Your Resume Like a Newsletter
  4. Add a Touch of Color
  5. Include a Personal Element

Creating a resume is a daunting task for many people. Before you dive in, it’s a good idea to spend some time looking at resume samples. These examples will help you get a feel for what resume styles work well in your industry. You can also look at a resume sample from a different industry to gain more perspective. For example, you’ll likely find that a contemporary customer service resume is different from the resume format used for banking, healthcare, or creative fields.

Each resume example you view will help you hone your personal preferences. You’ll get a sense of what visual elements and approaches resonate with you from each sample resume. This will help guide you to select the best resume templates for your unique needs.

A contemporary resume is a great tool to showcase your qualifications and skills while helping you stand out from other applicants. Today’s resume experts recommend including relevant details, with links to help recruiters and hiring managers learn more about you. You can direct prospective employers to your LinkedIn profile, social media accounts, or any online profiles for more insight.

1. Choose a Multi-Column Format

If you look closely at contemporary resume styles, you’ll notice many have something in common. Instead of the traditional single-column approach, many resume examples feature two-column resume layouts or even three-column styles.

Why is this approach so popular in contemporary resume formats? It allows you to tell a strong story about who you are without taking up a lot of space on the page. You don’t need to follow a traditional resume format that lists contact details followed by work experience in reverse chronological order with education, awards, publications, and professional achievements buried at the bottom of a second or third page. Instead, you can bring those points up to the top in a sidebar, while keeping core details like experience and key accomplishments in the center.

If you want to try out the multi-column approach, you can use a contemporary resume template as a start point. You can easily find a two-column resume layout that you can customize with details on your skills and experience. It’s a great idea to rely on a template for a basic resume outline but then tailor your resume to spotlight your best capabilities.

Many of these two-column resume templates work with popular word processing or desktop publishing software. If you are wondering how to create a two-column resume in Word, you don’t have to start from scratch. Instead, you can use a template created by professional design experts to make a positive impression when applying for any position. Templates make contemporary resume designs easily accessible to anyone.

2. Include Eye-Catching Headers

In the past, job seekers stuck to standard fonts. To help structure information, resumes may have featured bold, italics, or text size changes for headers. Today, you have many more options to create headers that draw attention to key sections of your resume. You can use eye-catching typefaces that contrast with your body text and even add a pop of color.

That said, you don’t want to pick typefaces that are distracting or hard to read. Job search experts and designers often publish updated lists of dos and don’ts for contemporary resume fonts. Most of these lists recommend staying away from Times New Roman since that was the go-to font for resumes for years. Arial, Comic Sans, and Courier are also on the “don’t use” list when designing a contemporary resume. Also, be sure to avoid script or handwriting-style fonts.

Instead, you can try fonts like Garamond, Constantia, Georgia, Avenir, Didot, Gill Sans, and Cambria. You’ll see many sample resumes that use these popular fonts. Ideally, you’ll want a font that works equally as well as on-screen or print resumes.

You don’t need to be a typeface expert to pick header fonts for your resume. Most contemporary resume design templates have pre-set fonts that complement the layout’s overall style. A professionally designed resume template can give you the look you want with ease, so you can spend less time on formatting changes. Even a simple resume template will include typeface styles that you can personalize with ease.

3. Style Your Resume Like a Newsletter

You may notice something familiar about contemporary resume styles: Many feel like print or online newsletters. They feature attention-grabbing headers, short body text passages, pops of color, graphics, and plenty of white space. And a two-column resume design fits in perfectly with this newsletter approach.

A newsletter-style contemporary resume works well for many reasons. First, it is a familiar format that recruiters and hiring managers are used to navigating. People reading your contemporary resume can easily scan headers and gather information from any graphical elements. This will help them decide if they want to invest the time in reading every detail on your resume.

Another advantage of the newsletter approach is that it inspires readers to want more information. Think of newsletters you receive via email. They often include snappy headers and short “teasers” of information designed to motivate you to click on a link to learn more. Their intent is not to tell the whole story—just an enticing piece of the story to motivate you to seek out additional details.

With a newsletter-style layout, you can create a contemporary resume that has the same appeal. You can think of sections of your resumes like “teasers” in a newsletter. For example, instead of listing out every detail for every past position, list a few compelling accomplishments. Use active verbs and numbers to grab attention.

Your goal with your contemporary resume is getting recruiters and hiring managers to take the next step. That may be visiting your personal website or LinkedIn profile—or setting up an interview.

4. Add a Touch of Color

One of the best features of contemporary resume templates is that they are not all black and white. Instead, many feature a dash of color. Look around at different modern resume samples and take note of what you see. You’ll likely find that most stick to a basic color palette with a single accent color. Those in artistic professions—such as graphic design—may use more than one color to help convey their creativity.

When selecting resume colors, less is truly more. If you want to add a touch of color but play it safe, choose blue or green. Red or orange can convey a sense of energy.

In most cases, using a white background for your core body text is the best bet. You’ll want to stick with black text for much of your content and use your chosen color as an accent. Colors often work well as major section headers. Sidebars in a two-column resume template are often gray, but a pale blue can work as well.

If you feel uncomfortable selecting resume colors on your own, put those concerns aside. It’s easy to find a template that features just the right touch of color. All you need to do is incorporate your personal career details into that contemporary resume format, and you’ll have a sleek, colorful design in no time.

Another important tip: Use the same color scheme on your cover letter for a consistent look and feel. You can choose resume and cover letter template bundles to ensure continuity across your communications.

5. Include a Personal Element

Another common element you’ll see in contemporary resume examples is a photo of the applicant. If you think a picture of yourself is an unusual feature to include in a professional resume, think again.

Why is that the case? If an employer has any interest in you, they’re likely going to search for you online. Your personal and professional social media accounts are going to turn up near the top of those search results. And what do those accounts use to identify you? A photo.

For this reason, including a photo on your resume is becoming a very normal practice. Your best bet is to include the same photo you have on any online resume—such as a personal website or LinkedIn profile. That will provide visual continuity and ensure hiring managers they’ve found the right person if they search for you online.

If including a photo doesn’t feel right to you, you can still add a personal element. Why not consider a simple monogram with your first and last initials styled in your chosen accent color? Or use a text treatment for your name that stands out from the rest of your resume content? Both of these approaches can highlight a bit of your personality and style. And that can be a huge boost and help you stand out in a sea of applicants.

Build a Contemporary Resume That Showcases Your Best

As you navigate the next steps in your career, your resume or CV is a critical tool that can help open doors to new opportunities. You don’t need to use the same old resume templates that look just like every other applicant. Instead, you can use a modern resume template that mixes substance and style—and showcases your most important achievements.

Whether you want a chronological resume or a functional resume, there is a contemporary resume style that meets your needs. Spend some time looking at good resume examples online. Gather ideas about what works well in your profession and what reflects the message you want to convey. Take notes on each sample you review and keep what you’ve learned in mind when you select your professional resume template.

You’ll notice that many contemporary resumes resemble a newsletter with eye-catching headers and short text teasers. These two column resume templates can work especially well if you want to sum up your expertise in a one-page resume.

Unlike resumes of old, a contemporary resume often includes a dash of color and photos of applicants. A single accent color is a great way to inject visual interest and a sense of your personality in your resume. Similarly, a photo can help make a resume seem more personal and adds visual appeal. Be sure to select a photo that is professional and current—and is the same as or similar to ones you use for any online accounts.

Remember that your resume is an expression of your personal brand. It’s often the first impression a potential employer has of you. A professional resume can send the message that you have current, relevant skills and can bring innovative new ideas to the table.

If creating a two-column format resume and selecting colors or fonts seems somewhat intimidating, keep in mind that you don’t need to go it alone. You can find a contemporary resume template and make it your own with little effort. Instead of spending time learning how to create a two-column resume, you can focus on drafting compelling content. Whether you choose a two-column Word resume or another style, a contemporary resume can help you land that coveted interview you deserve.

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