Fran Rosa

23 November 2015 Last update: 26 May 2017


Résumé Design: An Honest Visual Approach

Most people deal with their résumé only when they need a job: after completing college education, losing their jobs, or wanting a shift in their careers. So a résumé is always seen as a marketing tool. You put yourself in the market as a product, and you need to make your case. There are posts, articles, chapters, and books on how to write your résumé to get a job, a new job, a better job.

A résumé is nothing more than a collection of facts about our career to date. We twist that simple thing a résumé is and add a sales pitch as a summary, some buzzwords here and there, and even tweak the dates if needed, just to turn the simple story of our professional experience into an epic journey the end of which is the position you are applying to. But as Abraham Lincoln said ‘We cannot escape history’.

From a design perspective a résumé is interesting enough without adding some illustration and graphs. I’m not trying to make a case against pie charts with a percentage about expertise level of a given software. I mean to try to go back to the root of a résumé and try to enhance its meaning by design.

On time

Time is the main information on a résumé. Not only you have to place the events along a timeline, but also durations, overlapping and general rhythm gives a sense of how your journey have been so far. Each career path has a different flow. But to be able to see it, we need a perspective on it as a whole, the big picture.

So placing each job experience as a line on the timeline let us see the amount and duration of them in relation to others, when there’s multiple lines at once or it there is any noticeable gap between the lines.

My work experience on a timeline

Relationship between work experience and education is also a basic aspect of a résumé. Not everyone has followed a classic ‘college education before job experience’ order.

Work experience and education of a former coworker, using his LinkedIn profile as a reference

In my case, my education came later in life after a few years of experience, and that’s a key aspect to understand my career path.

My work experience and education

Others may have no education, or a more diverse one as an ongoing growth or in different moments in life.

Work experience and education of a former classmate, using his LinkedIn profile as a reference


Under the title of ‘skills’ people usually group technical skills, softare expertise and other skills. In the design industry it also includes a list of design areas one have experience with, because it’s very different to be a graphic designer with experience on print branding collateral or a digital designer with experience in user interface for mobile devices. So skills add up in a pile where people try to stablish some relation between them, thus the use of percentages applied to software or techniques, just to give a sense of proportion between a mastered technique and a recently acquired skill.

As a designer there are two type of skills I find interesting to follow through time: design areas, and responsibilities and management skills. In your career you may have been working on a very specific range of areas, or constantly shifting between different areas of interest. Also your level of responsibility may have changed. You can be an expert on a specific area working with no subordinates on a bigger company after leading a team as a generalist designer on a smaller one.

My skills

So not only having amount of time to create relative level of importance for different skills, but also how they change through time, and in relation with job experience and education, as you may learn to explore new design areas, or gain responsibility as your academic curriculum grows.

Having all those aspects together can give you an accurate big picture on someone’s career path based on facts instead of an epic story.

My job experience, education and skills on the same timeline

You can see a live version of my résumé on, including text labels for every line on the timeline. If you want to use it as a template to build your own version, please let me know as it would be interesting to check the utility of the model as well as being able to compare different full résumés.