How To Create A Modern CV/Resumé With InDesign

In this tutorial we’re going to be learning how to use InDesign to create a clean and structured CV/Resumé design. We will be using basic tools and techniques (but ever so important ones!) to create the design. If you haven’t already, you should check out our “Getting To Grips With InDesign” series to brush up on your InDesign skills.

Step 1

As with all designs, we need something to refer to when designing. Grab a piece of paper and sketch out a couple of ideas for your CV’s structure. The CV I’m designing is going to be double-sided – yes, it costs a little more to produce, but it gives you a little bit of space to showcase some of your work and ultimately “wow’s” your hopefully future employer even more!

It pays to get resumés professionally printed – if it lands you a well-paid job that you love it is well worth it!

Front ↓

Adobe InDesign Resume

Back ↓

Adobe InDesign Resume

Sketches don’t have to take long – I spent just a couple of minutes on mine. It just helps avoid that “what do I do?” phrase when you open up a blank screen in InDesign or any other application!

Step 2

It’s now time to open up InDesign and set up a document. When InDesign is open, go to File > New > Document. Select A4 as your page size, and change the number of pages to two, making sure Facing Pages is unchecked. Change your margins down to 5mm and your bleed up to 3mm. Click OK.

Adobe InDesign Resume

You’ll see that we have three different lines, a red one (which is our bleed line – any artwork that meets the edge of the page should meet this red line), the black line (this is our actual page) and our purple/pink line which is our margin line (all content such as text etc should be inside this line).

Adobe InDesign Resume

The next step is to start putting together some of our structure, which is possibly the hardest thing to do as we don’t actually know how much space we need for our different sections until it’s all written up.

However, it’s still a good idea to get some of the structure sorted. Grab the Text Tool and drag out a selection in the top left corner of your page. This will be our text box for our “CV/Resumé” title.

Adobe InDesign Resume

You’ll notice when you drag out a new text box it will automatically snap to the alignment of other objects and/or important areas, such as the center of the page. Drag out another text box for your first header and your basic information section, such as your name and contact details.

Adobe InDesign Resume

Keep on dragging out text boxes, making sure they’re well aligned.

Adobe InDesign Resume

It’s now time to do the same but with image placeholders rather than text boxes. Select the Rectangle Frame Tool, and repeat the steps again in places we want images. I’m going to have a profile image next to my profile text, and some icon images in the bottom left hand corner for my skills.

Adobe InDesign Resume

Repeat the same steps again on our second page, where we will display some of our work.

Adobe InDesign Resume

Step 3

It’s time to start filling in our content! Lets start with out main header, “CV/Resumé“. Double-click in header box and type in your words. Select a suitable typeface of your choice – I’m using Blue Highway Bold as it is the font used in my logo, and I want to keep my identity going throughout my brand.

Adobe InDesign Resume

Go through your two pages filling in all the header titles. For this I have again used the typeface Blue Highway, set to 21pt.

Adobe InDesign Resume

Start filling in your profile section, including your name, email address, contact number, postal address and anything else you feel is necessary, such as your websites URL. I used Arial at 12pt for this section, and will do for all other sections of my text.

Adobe InDesign Resume

Select all of the text you just inserted and change the Leading to 16pt – the leading is the space in between each line of text. This makes it much easier to read.

Adobe InDesign Resume

Insert the rest of your profile information – this should include information such as how old you are, your ambitions, goals, and hobbies.

Adobe InDesign Resume

To add some “oomph” to our profile, we’re going to make certain words bold and italic. Go through your profile text and change some words to Arial Bold or Italic. I also lowered the size of the typeface to 11pt and the Leading to 14pt.

Adobe InDesign Resume

Step 4

To finish off our profile section we’re going to add a portrait picture of yourself. For this tutorial, I’m going to use a photo of myself. Click on your image placeholder in your profile section and then go to File > Place. Select your image and click OK.

Adobe InDesign Resume

The chances are the image you have inserted is a lot bigger than your image placeholder. No worries though, this is super easy to fix. Select your Direct Selection Tool and click on the image you have inserted into your placeholder. You will notice that this has selected the image inside the placeholder rather than the placeholder itself.

Adobe InDesign Resume

Still with the Direct Selection Tool selected, whilst holding the Shift-Key to keep the image in proportion, scale the image down.

Adobe InDesign Resume

If you’re image seems blurry or pixelated at all, this is most probably caused by InDesign’s default display performance, which is mixed between speed and quality. For a small document like this with barely any images, you’re best off using the highest quality setting. You can change this by going to View > Display Performance > High Quality Display.

Adobe InDesign Resume

Step 5

Finish the rest of the text-based tasks off using techniques we have already used. Areas we need to fill include the qualifications, education/employment and achievements areas.

Adobe InDesign Resume

As you can see I have used the same typeface through all of the text, with bold titles and italic used for things such as the dates at the end of each achievement. Fill in the final piece of text on the back of your CV/Resumé and then we can move on!

Adobe InDesign Resume

Step 6

Our next step is to find a good set of icons, for which we’re going to be using in our skills section of our CV. We have space for 8 icons – we could of course design our own, but for this tutorial I’m going to outsource to ‘freebies’ to save us some time. Decide which 8 skills you’d like to include.

In my case, I’m going to use: OS X, Windows, Email (Communication), Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, TextWrangler and Microsoft Office. Below is a list of where I got my icons…

With that done, open all of your icons up in Photoshop and resize them to exactly 100×100 pixels. Once done, save all of your files as JPGs.

Adobe InDesign Resume

With your icons done, start placing them into your icon/image placeholders that we created earlier. You can do this the same way we inserted our profile picture; by clicking on the placeholder and then going to File > Place, selecting your file and then resizing it within the image placeholder using the Direct Selection Tool.

Adobe InDesign Resume

Our next step is to make some blocks for our ‘meter readings’ to show our skill level of the different applications. Select the Rectangle Tool and drag out a shape with the same height as your icons. Copy and paste the shape several times, and set them an equal space apart from each other as seen below.

Adobe InDesign Resume

Remove the stroke of all the shapes, and color them all grey.

Adobe InDesign Resume

Copy and paste all of the shapes seven times, placing them in the correct position next to your other icons.

Adobe InDesign Resume

Fill in your skill level for each application – be honest here, there’s no point in lying, they will find you out!

Adobe InDesign Resume

Step 7

The next stage is to add your portfolio of work into the image placeholders on our back page. To do this, select the image placeholder and the go to File > Place to locate your image. Resize the placeholders using the Selection Tool, and the placeholders contents using the Direct Selection Tool.

Adobe InDesign Resume

With that done, so is our CV/Resumé! The next step is to export our document as a PDF for easy printing and sending digitally via email. Having a PDF version of your CV is also great for showing it off on shiny gadgets such as your iPad! Go to File > Export and save as a PDF.

Adobe InDesign Resume

Select “Smallest File Size” from the PDF settings. As our CV is made up of just text and few images, the smallest file size quality should be fine for both on-screen and sending. The biggest bonus is that it should end up being a tiny file to send over email. And that’s it, we’re done!

Just remember that it’s worth spending a little bit of quality time when putting your CV together; it should not only show off your creative ideas and skills, but also give away a clue or two into your personality and the person you are, leaving the viewer wanting to find out more about you, hopefully leading to an interview, or at least a phone call!

Time To Share!

We’d love to see your CV and Resumé designs, so why not share a link to your work in the comments?


  1. Craig Harrison says

    It looks quite cheap and quick. If someone came to me with that at my company, I wouldn’t have great first impressions with their design capabilities.

  2. dennis says

    yo Craig, easy man… a resumes not a piece of design work :-) its just a list to give you an overview of what a person has done before .., could be nicely edited indeed.

  3. dennis says

    actually this list of tools you are working with is quite obsolet… I dont know a professional who doesnt expect photoshop experience from a graphic designer as well as nobody is interested in what editor you are coding as long as it is NOT dreamweaver. and as you wont apply for a job as a secretary, who cares how deep you are into something like MS office Word :-)

  4. says

    @Dennis: The icons are there as an example (and by the way, Photoshop is in there). The goal with this tutorial wasn’t to actually design the most incredible resume ever, it was to show techniques that can be used to create your own. Grab the InDesign file from the tutorial and use it as a starting point :)

  5. says

    Its a great tutorial and I might use it for myself.

    However you can not use a photo of yourself on the resume. Most places will throw it out for legal reasons, they’re terrified that someone will complain they weren’t hired because of how they looked or the color of their skin or because they have a minaret in the background ;)

  6. says

    This is an awesome tutorial! I love that you sketched first. I always do that too. I love how you defined your skills. That is always the hardest part for me to put into words.

  7. Fran says

    If you use InDesign to make your resume, use the advanced tools to make a baseline grid, at least. To make a resume like the one you made, Illustrator is enough, and easier.

  8. Illet says

    Would you really show your skill level that way? Looks like an easy way to show what your not good at.

  9. Lennington says

    About half the content on that CV/Resume shouldn’t even be there.

    Before you even start the layout, sort out the content. Function before form.

  10. says

    @Illet: Good point, but on the other hand it’s also a way to tell clients/employers what you are good at. If you ‘can’ work with a particular application but you’re not at the advanced/expert level yet, it’s still worth mentioning in my opinion.

    @Lennington: What would you add/remove then? The goal with this tutorial was to show how you can create your own resume with InDesign (a starting point), not to tell people what should or should not go on there. You will of course put different content depending on the job you’re after, the industry, the income level, the position in a company, etc…

  11. steve says

    Note: Do NOT ad a picture of yourself to a CV unless you want the person to judge you before meeting you. The hoodie etc would turn me off strait away just based on my personal judgment. I can say I will not judge these people but it is human nature. A CV is you on paper, not you in person.

  12. says

    @steve: This post is not about what you should or should not put on your CV, that’s up to the person looking for a job (as I’ve mentioned in previous comments) and in some cases having your picture on there can help.

    I’ve put a picture of myself on my CVs and that never prevented me from getting a job or at least an interview. If someone judges me from my looks before meeting me, I honestly don’t wanna work for them.

  13. Christopher Anderton says

    About not putting your picture in your CV. Sounds like a U.S. only thing (that part about being accused for rasism). Where i live (Sweden) you should almost ALWAYS put your picture in your CV.

  14. says

    I actually love seeing the mixed comments here! Whether you like a CV/Resumé, at the end of the day, comes down to personal taste. I’ve seen CV’s I’ve loved and CV’s I’ve hated, yet those with CV’s I didn’t like have great jobs, and those with CV’s I do like are unemployed… It totally depends on who is looking at the CV.

    @Steve: A lot of CV’s have pictures on… If I were reading through CV’s I personally would prefer those with photos of themselves. I think it shows they have the confidence to think outside of the box, try new things and take little risks. That’s a good thing, especially in the design industry. And that picture is just an example of me – doesn’t mean you HAVE to have a hood up, and besides, what’s wrong with a hood? You can’t be stereotypical when it comes to CV, everyone should have an equal right when it comes to appearance etc. As Jon said, if I didn’t get an interview/job because of my appearance I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway!

    @Illet: It’s just as important to show the things you’re not great at as it is the things you are great at. It a) shows you’re honest, b) know you have room to improve with certain skills and applications and c) shows you want to improve – otherwise you wouldn’t have put it there. Employers like to know you want to learn and want to keep up with the fast-moving trends, regularly updated software, development skills and last but not least, technology.

    @Dennis: It doesn’t just indicate how good you are at the application you develop in, but how confident you at developing all together. You wouldn’t give yourself 4/5 for a coding application if you couldn’t code… But you could use a HTML icon or something! Also, lots of employers like to know they can ask you to help out with letters etc. There’s no harm in letting people know you have good office skills, too. :)

  15. says

    Geez.. the title of the post was how to CREATE your CV / Resume. Just to show you how to lay the foundation. It wasn’t meant to be the be all end all on how to DESIGN one.

  16. Patricia says

    @Jon It’s all about either being personal or being TOO personal. Let’s say that the company you applied for is affirmative action company, including your picture can tip the scales either for or against you. Designers can be self-righteous all they want but business is business.

    Believe or not if you put your age on your resume, the employer has the ability to discriminate you without breaking any laws by asking for your age. This is a HUGE no. People need to know their rights, like what are “illegal” questions an employer can’t ask. Plus, putting images of yourself leaves you wide open.

    Designer love to be personal and creative but giving alway too much personal information can hurt you in the long run. That’s my experience in the industry in the US. Like Christopher said, it differs from country to country.

    In my opinion, there is nothing wrong approaching a potential employer with a personal approach but sharing your age and including a photo can be hurtful to your price quote (younger = cheaper + easier to get free service for example).

  17. says

    @Patricia: Thanks for your comment, you bring good points. In my opinion, if someone discriminates me because of my age or what I look like, like I said, I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway, but on the other hand I agree that having your age and a picture of yourself on your CV may, in some cases it, hurt more than it can help.

    If you include your age on your resume, I see this as a way to weed out employers you probably wouldn’t really want to work for in the first place. But like you said, it seems to differ from country to country.

  18. says

    @Tycho: Nice work! I love the graph to show off your skills!

    @Patricia: Good points; I think it totally depends on where you live, what position you’re applying for, and what company you’re sending it into. Some companies are quite old fashioned and do take age, experience etc too seriously, where as there are a lot of young, creative and experimental agencies out there who purposely go for younger designers to bring fresh talent, modern ideas etc, in which case a picture and your age could be beneficial. Completely depends on your circumstances I guess!

  19. Pauly-chops says

    Personally I wouldnt add a photo to a Resume but thats just the done thing here in Ireland. I know that other European countries such as Spain where employers expect to see a photo on it.

    Regarding the tutorial (not the content, cos thats not what is being taught here!), its very well written, easy to follow and helpful to those who want to get into InDesign.

    Thanks for posting!


  20. Foliology says

    I’ve come across conflicting information about whether or not you should save your resume in PDF. I’ve read several design blogs that say your resume should show off your design abilities. Therefore design it in InDesign and save to PDF. But some human resources professionals say that you should NEVER submit a resume in anything but MS Word format.

    Anyone care to comment?

  21. says

    I know I would be impressed if an applicant brought in a resume that looked that nice. Indesign is very user friendly, but going into it with a guide like this makes the job a lot easier to understand.

  22. says


    I have heard that too, but funny when you said that, I cringed, thinking of all of the people who have brought me flattened pdfs and asked for them in ms word format.

    I say go for indesign and convert to pdf.. why the hell would they want to be able to edit your resume anyway! :)

  23. Brennen says

    I love the tutorial and the comments. The tutorial IS just a tutorial on layout, hence the use of InDesign. As for the content, not every employer is the same. Nor are the industries.

  24. says

    To be honnest, I didn’t realy like it at first.
    However I think this tutorial is more intended for absolute newbies in Indesign, or people outside of the design industry. Theirfore : thumbs up !

  25. says

    Hi Callum

    Spot on with this article, i although have the problem that i am not a gfx wizkid as you are, so i would rather have a system that does these things for me. I always found it very time consuming to maintain different CV for different positions i wanted to apply for. Normally i make a special CV for my jobs, if they are asking for something specific in the job ad then I write in my CV the things that I have had experience with. For a long time i did this manually, but now i found a tool on the internet where you can have your CV and work with them actively. It can even inherit data from other CV’s in a way that i only have to change on place end the basic stuff gets changed automatically. For mee as a computer specialist but not a graphics wizard like you, this is an easy and transparent way to have several CV’s.

    Best regards
    Michael Stetsenko

  26. Designer says

    It sounds like you might not be in the US, but in the US I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to put your photo or for an employer to ask for your photo.

    Your clients list should be much easier to scan, why not a 3-column list or something.

    I hate it when design jobs ask for designers to submit their resumes in Word, hello? do you understand what design is, it’s infuriating. I did recreate my creative resume in Word to satisfy those idiots (though normally I ignore them because they obviously don’t know what they’re doing.)

    It looks like you used all one typeface (Arial?) and you really should try to create as much visual hierarchy as possible, which includes using different typefaces.

    Listing all your school grades makes it seem like you’re a high schooler trying to get a job and that you don’t know what else to list. Qualifications to me means, handled X project X under budget with X people working with/for me, something like that. A “C” in Science doesn’t show me anything except that you don’t know Science.

    To be honest, I wouldn’t even consider you for a design job. The designer’s job is to show people what’s important and to get them to move over the information and guide them through the page/item, but everything’s the same volume on your page. I wouldn’t feel confident you could get me the results I wanted.

  27. says

    I appreciate this post as it gives me a few ideas, but probably more for my Web site than for a print résumé. (And this is a résumé. A CV is much longer and contains citations of journal publications and the like. CVs are mostly for academics and researchers applying for grants and other academic positions. It’s not really the same thing.)

    I especially like seeing your overall design process as that can be applied to any design project. It’s rare to get that glimpse into someone’s head. I can see insight and practicality.

    It’s certainly not illegal to put a photo of yourself on your résumé, unlike “Designer’s” comment. (It’s also not illegal to swear on a résumé, but should you?) It’s just not always wise to show your visage though unless you’re an actor, model, etc. The reason is, someone might assume you’re too old, too young, too white, too dark, too pretty, too ugly, etc. Believe it or not, some people won’t hire attractive men or women. So, even if you’re a god(dess), it could be a bad idea. But if that’s expected in your area of the world, then just make sure you look great and professional.

    I’m not sure about the printing on both sides though. I’ve had a lot of HR and creative directors tell me not to do that since it makes it too hard to make notes and draw correlations. Plus, unless you have a great paper, it can just look cheap. And glossy paper seems to be out as it’s again too large to make notes on the résumé itself.

    Again, thanks for the post — and the icon links.

  28. Casanova Frankenstein says

    It’s not illegal to put your photo on your CV for first amendment reasons, but it’s not commonly done for reasons of good taste. You’re right that it is illegal for the employer to ask for your photo.

  29. Joe says

    Great tips to give someone has done a resume in awhile. Really catches your eye and well organize, and attention to detail.

  30. Erica Cain says

    I am a professional corporate recruiter (read: I work in-house for one company and am not what is commonly called a headhunter), and I can tell you that I have never heard anything more proposterous than someone saying it is “illegal” to put anything on a résumé. *facepalm* That being said, HR professionals do not want you to put a photo on your résumébecause it sets them up for the exact issues that Stanford mentioned. Depending on the field, it also can come across as quite unprofessional. A good HR professional really don’t care what their IT/marketing/communications/etc. professionals look like. If they do, then they are in the wrong field.

    Also, as was also mentioned by Stanford, this is not a CV, and you do people a disservice by labeling it as such. Some people may be searching for how to create a CV, and I’m sure you would hate for them to be misinformed. This is a résumé. Get the accents right (notice there are two) because spelling is a huge deal on résumés. If you don’t have attention to detail when selling yourself, then why would I think you have attention to detail when working on my product?

    I agree that the qualifications section is not what I would consider a qualifications list. Your grades don’t matter to me. I want to know if you graduated, and that’s really about it because that is an employer set requirement. That doesn’t tell me anything about you, though. I want to know WHY to hire you. What have you contributed in the past? Did you implement something nifty that created an annual cost savings of 20%? Tell me about THAT! Those are the things that sell you, and that I can sell to the company. Don’t go into anymore depth than what I listed in my example. Remember–your initial goal is to land an interview. You can tell me the rest then. You WANT me to want to know more about you and your projects.

    Speaking of selling yourself, “One of my…” is not the way to start a bullet point that will get my attention. You should always start a line with an action verb: “Developed award-winning marketing campaign for , which led to a 10% increase in sales” is much more impressive. Don’t bore me or I will move right on to the next résumé. You have about 5 seconds to win me over so that I will finish reading your résumé. That is the harsh reality in a world where everyone is seeking a job opportunity and HR professionals are flooded with applicants.

    All that being said, I love the icons that you use to list skills. “Skills” is usually the most boring field on a résumé because people write the same crap (and, yes, you are 100% right that we WILL find out if you lie on these things–often before you get your foot in the door since we often use assessments to weed out the people who do lie on their résumés). This is a unique way to display skills, and it would definitely catch my eye.

    I know I listed a lot of constructive criticism in this post, but I do admire your goal to create an interesting and different résumé. For creative job opportunities, this is very important. Kudos to you!

  31. says

    I’m embarrassed at some of the comments here. I love this tutorial and I think like some people have said that the point was to show how to do this in InDesign, not to tell people what to put on their resume. For me, this was very helpful. Some people need to relax. If you have so much to say, make your own tutorial for people to rip apart. Thanks for the tips!


  1. How To Create A Modern CV/Resumé With InDesign…

    In this tutorial we’re going to be learning how to use InDesign to create a clean and structured CV/Resumé design. We will be using basic tools and techniques (but ever so important ones!) to create the design….

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