Creative Resumes: Enhance Your Resume with Graphics
by Kim Isaacs, Monster Resume Expert

Is your resume looking a bit bland? You need to spice it up.

Traditionally text-based documents, resumes may now incorporate images thanks to the widespread use of graphics in word processing programs and formatting enhancements.

It’s worth noting that using graphics might not be appropriate in all cases. For example, incorporating graphics into a resume for an investment banker probably wouldn’t send the right message. But if you’re a graphic designer or work in a creative marketing position, images on the resume could work to your advantage.

Used appropriately, graphical enhancements can act as visual cues that draw the reader’s eye, reinforcing your brand message and calling attention to your top selling points.

Graphics You May Use on Your Resume

  • Industry icons: These are images that represent or allude to a field or occupation, for example, a chef’s hat for a chef, a sales chart with figures going up for a salesperson or a globe for an international businessperson.
  • Certification logos: Professional certification boards often allow the use of their logos on resumes. If your certification strongly adds to your qualifications and you have permission to use its logo, consider adding it to your resume.
  • Charts: Emphasize your achievements by incorporating charts into your accomplishments section. A chart may demonstrate, for instance, that you exceeded expectations by illustrating your actual vs. projected performance.
  • Decorative headers: Instead of using a single black horizontal line to separate your resume’s sections, employ a decorative touch, like color.
  • Watermark: Add a subtle background image, making sure it doesn’t interfere with text readability. Artists and other creative professionals may consider using their work samples as watermarks.
  • Icons as bullets: Instead of using bland circles, use industry-related symbols as bullets. For example, a flight attendant may use little airplanes, or a teacher may use pencils.
  • Personal logo or monogram: Design a logo or monogram that incorporates your initials and place it next to your name in the header.
  • Monster’s Resume Enhancement: Use My Monster Premium to highlight your Monster resume listing with graphics, including bold type and industry icons.

Avoid the Pitfalls

  • Don’t overwhelm your resume with graphics. Use design features judiciously; your graphics should enhance your marketing message and make your resume look professional, not garish. When adding creative touches, always get a second opinion.
  • Consider your target audience. If you’re applying for a job in a conservative field — such as accounting or law — moderation is key. If you are in a high tech or creative field, your resume can have a cutting-edge feel.
  • Don’t clog up inboxes. When emailing your resume, be sure your graphic features haven’t made your file unusually large, thereby slowing download time and potentially clogging up an inbox.
  • Use royalty-free images. If you’re using clip art or stock photos, read the license agreements to ensure you’re permitted to use the images on your resume. Your word-processing program may include some free images, or you can search “free clip art” on a search engine like Google.

This article was written by Kim Isaacs, director of and author of The Career Change Resume book. Visit to learn more about resume services to jump-start your career.

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