Professional Documents

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Overview

Whether you’re putting together a resume for the first time, updating your LinkedIn profile, or developing a professional portfolio, effective design can help you stand out from the crowd. This page highlights tools, tips, and tricks for taking your professional documents to the next level. You’ll also find links to UW-Madison career services that you can use to get even more help!

Resumes and CVs
Resumes are documents designed to highlight your qualifications for a job or other opportunity. All resumes should include basic information like your name, contact info, and address. The additional information you include will depend on the requirements of the position. For example, a resume might summarize your professional history, education, community service, technical skills, or other relevant experience.
With resumes, less is more! In the US, resumes are expected to be one page. Reviewers should be able to quickly skim through the document and get the information they need. That means using a simple font and a reasonable font size — no smaller than 10pt. Also, consider what information is the most important. Use design cues like color, size, alignment, and bolding to direct the viewer’s eye.
A curriculum vitae (or CV) includes much of the same information as a resume. But unlike a resume, a CV documents the full history of your work, education, service, and other achievements — usually, for academic purposes. There’s no set limit for the length of a CV, but that doesn’t mean you should wax poetic! The person reading your CV should be able to get a comprehensive, succinct overview of your experiences up to now. Because of the length of a CV, make sure you’ve clearly organized the document into labelled sections with the most important information toward the top. The same design strategies mentioned above also apply.

Professional Websites
A website can provide a dynamic and visually appealing platform for communicating your qualifications to potential employers. In light of this, professional websites and digital CVs or resumes are becoming more common. A good digital CV or resume should include all of the same information as its PDF or printed counterpart. But you’ll also want to think about capabilities specific to the web, like hyperlinks, page menus, images, and user interaction.
Professional websites are especially useful for individuals working in website development, graphic design, visual arts, video production, or other media fields. These professionals would likely create a portfolio site. A portfolio site allows the creator to display their own work, attract clients, network, and apply for jobs or graduate school. Regardless of the medium, it places the work at the center of the structure and design of the site. Some portfolio sites also contain a personal blog, but the majority use a gallery-style site layout. Portfolios should be easy to navigate and contain a brief description of each piece, with an artist’s or professional statement. It is important to consider whether an online portfolio is intended to be stand-alone, or paired with a professional website.
Visit our Web-Based project page for more tips and tricks.

Other Professional Documents
Business cards are primarily a quick and easy way to distribute professional contact information. But a well-designed business card can also give someone a sense of your professional brand and the field of work you’re in — through a logo, color, images, or other elements. A business card is what a new connection will remember you by, and you can use design principles to leave a good impression.

Visit our Branding/Logos project page for more tips and tricks.

Recommended Software

More Design Tips and Tricks

Designing an effective resume or CV

With resumes, less is more! In the US, resumes are expected to be one page. Reviewers should be able to quickly skim through the document and get the information they need. That means using a simple font and a reasonable font size — no smaller than 10pt. Also, consider what information is the most important. Use design cues like color, size, alignment, and bolding to direct the viewer’s eye.

There’s no set limit for the length of a CV, but that doesn’t mean you should wax poetic! The person reading your CV should be able to get a comprehensive, succinct overview of your experiences up to now. Because of the length of a CV, make sure you’ve clearly organized the document into labelled sections with the most important information toward the top. The same design strategies mentioned above also apply.

For CVs and resumes, it may not be appropriate to include a professional photograph of yourself. Most companies in the US, photographs are not recommended because of issues with the resume screening software used and concerns about bias in hiring. If you are applying for a job in another country or in a design-oriented field, a photograph may be appropriate.

Choosing Photographs for Professional Documents

Setting

  • Setting up for a professional photoshoot doesn’t necessarily need a DSLR camera or studio. If you can pay for it, go for it. An equally good alternative could be to pay attention to the basics of taking a good and clearly visible photograph. You may choose to have a tripod to avoid unnecessary shaking or movement while taking the shot.

Lighting

  • If possible, use the natural light sources to take professional images. If you are taking photos indoors, find a bright spot by a window and keep the light sources in front of you to avoid any shadows. If you are outdoors, choose early-morning or late afternoon for optimal lighting for these professional pictures.

Image quality

  • The resolution of your picture should be high enough to be clear for both small and large screens. 72 dpi is a good standard to follow. There are many free and easy-to-use tools to help fix your images. Some of these are: Pixlr, TouchRetouch, Lightroom, Photoshop etc.

Staging and setup

  • You are the focus, so you should be the only person in the picture. You may want to take pictures using a background that represents your personality or the work you do. Otherwise, you could also select a solid, colored wall as your background. Your hair styling, dress, and makeup should all be appropriate to your work setting.

Framing

  • Generally, you’ll want your face to fill about 60% of the space of your photo. It is advisable to use one of two shot types in professional photos: (1) a medium close up, which is from your mid-chest until the top of your head or (2) a close up which is from your neck to the top of your head.

**Note: In the US it is uncommon to include photographs on CVs and Resumes because many companies use programs to read these documents and pull out relevant information.

Examples

Printing Professional Documents on Campus

Please note that DesignLab does not do any printing services. Below is a list of places on campus where you can print your documents.

Printing services may not be available at the locations below due to the pandemic. We recommend contacting the service to confirm.

College Library

College Library provides UW-Madison students, faculty, and staff access to both black & white and color printing. Professional documents can be printed in the College Library Second Floor Computer Lab (right by DesignLab!) any time the library is open. You must go in person to print.

Types of Print Material Available: Standard Printing Paper — You may provide your own heavier stock paper if it is compatible with laser printers. You will need to work with the staff to install and print the documents properly.

Payment Options: They accept Wiscard (with Campus Cash or a print account or department funding). No cash.

Questions? See the College Library printing website here for cost and contact information.


StudentPrint

StudentPrint, located in 333 E. Campus Mall Suite 3301, offers inexpensive printing options as well. Documents can be submitted online through their ordering form.

Types of Print Material Available: Standard Printing Paper, Middleweight, and Cardstock

Payment Options: They accept cash, check, Visa or Mastercard and Wiscard. They can set up accounts for anyone with a Department Funding String (UDDS#). They also accept the following ASM funding: Operations Grants, Event Grants, Open Funds, and GSSF funding.

Turnaround Time: All printing has a 2 day guaranteed turnaround. **Turnaround times may be longer due to the pandemic.**

Questions? See the StudentPrint Services website page here to estimate the cost and learn more.


Note: Many of the libraries and computer labs around campus offer printing services and may be able to print professional documents.