A List Apart


Illustration by Kevin Cornell

A Case for Responsive Résumés

Finding a job is easy. As a job seeker, having your résumé in .pdf format is all you’ll ever need. Creating a clean résumé in HTML5/CSS3 which scales well to different viewport sizes is a futile exercise.

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All lies! Here are four reasons why it’s a great idea to author your résumé in HTML:

  1. Static résumés become quickly outdated. A single, unified URL assures a recruiter or agency that your résumé is always up to date.
  2. A potential employer may view your résumé on a smartphone. Tethering our résumés to .pdf format is outmoded. Do you really want to trust a stiff, unresponsive .pdf to represent you?
  3. Editing .pdf files can be a painful experience.
  4. A DIY HTML résumé shows potential employers how much you love what you do, which can never hurt your chances.

Let’s look at the requirements for our responsive résumé.

  • It must be easy to maintain.
  • It must look spiffy.
  • It must scale well to smaller devices.

It must be easy to maintain

Evaluating document maintainability comes down to this: how efficiently can we locate and update various parts of the document? The easiest way to achieve maintainability is to create minimal, clear markup. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

Examining the source, you’ll notice nothing shocking. After a simple header, we’ve established two columns, and each column houses various article elements. In just a few lines of HTML, our markup is complete.

It must look spiffy

Your résumé needs to look as awesome as you are, so we’ll call the CSS cavalry for assistance. Using the mobile-first approach, we define responsive rules for smaller viewports (less than 520px wide). Why did I choose 520 pixels as the media query breaking point? This particular design looks a bit too condensed at sizes smaller than 520px. The number is completely arbitrary and specific to your own design.

A little flair isn’t a bad thing, so I added a simple CSS transition toward the bottom of our media query which adds a nice touch in supporting browsers. Browsers that don’t support transitions will ignore it. Enlarge your webkit browser from small (less than 520px) to large to view the transition.

.date-ranges {
    width: 15.4639%;
    transition:all .3s ease;
    -o-transition:all .3s ease; 
    -moz-transition:all .3s ease;
    -webkit-transition:all .3s ease;    

It must scale well to smaller devices

Resize the demo and test liberally. Our design is mobile-friendly and still retains its good looks.

Where can I use this?

If you have space on a server, you can store your résumé there, so that you can point a recruiter or agency to your always-current URL. LinkedIn users know that, at the time of this writing, no field exists in a user profile to add a résumé or CV URL. For now, we’re stuck with the old meat and potatoes document upload. Sadly, this is the case on many other popular job-hunting sites as well. And that’s exactly why I’ve written this article, to freshen the stale air we’re breathing.

As many grizzled job veterans know, a sharp résumé and near-flawless interview may still leave you short of your dream job. Competition is fierce and never wanes. But finding new ways to distinguish ourselves in today’s unforgiving economy is vital to a developer’s survival.

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