For Resume Writing, LaTeX > Word

4 minute read

For several years, I’ve had an old school resume prepared in Microsoft Word. Although I neither loved nor hated it, I knew that there had to be a better way. Enter resume templates:

Modern CV by ShareLaTeX Professional CV by Alessandro Plasmati Two-column CV by Nicola Fontana CV template by Kieran Healy Extended Fancy CV by Carmine Benedetto Data Engineer Resume by Harsh Gadgil
Sample resume templates

Note: All templates shown above, with the exception of ‘Data Engineer Resume by Harsh Gadgil’, can be found on ShareLaTeX.

For the uninitiated, is a document preparation system used for typesetting (as opposed to word processing). LaTeX has a steep learning curve; if you’re feeling particularly brave, a comprehensive tutorial can be found here.

Arguably, a resume is more typesetting than word processing. Resumes may contain multiple columns, which can be a pain to get right in Microsoft Word, but comes naturally to LaTeX. Dan McGee outlines the benefits of LaTeX over Word nicely. In some ways, LaTeX is like HTML - LaTeX projects usually contain two main files - a .tex file, that contains markup and content, and a .cls file, that contains styling code. Although this means that LaTeX projects are extremely flexible and versatile, a significant amount of coding may be involved in creating a pleasing typeset document. Fortunately, several specialized classes can be downloaded from the web and used as-is, reducing or even eliminating the need to write any styling code.

There are several reasons why I choose to write my resume in LaTeX rather than in Word:

  1. I want my resume to look professional and to stand out,
  2. I want to design the layout once, and then only focus on the content,
  3. I want to be able to effortlessly insert graphics in my resume without worrying that it will mess everything up, and
  4. I want my resume to (potentially) look exactly the same years from now.

Point 1 is a no-brainer for anyone who has looked at resumes prepared in LaTeX. As for Point 2 and Point 3, several frightful personal experiences with Word have taught me not to trust the placement of images, or text, or anything for that matter :unamused:. Working with Word just feels hacky, while working with LaTeX feels organized and streamlined. Everything just works, as long as you know what you’re doing. About Point 4, the miserable backward compatibility of Word is legendary. The document you meticulously prepared in Word 97 refuses to play nice with Word 2003; your carefully placed images and text are all over the place. In contrast, LaTeX documents prepared in 1993 or 2016 will both look exactly the same way they did when they were prepared :relieved:.

My own resume, tailored for a Data Scientist/Software Engineer role, looks like the last image in the gallery above. I’ve open sourced it here. If you’re feeling creative, you can adapt it for other roles too. Happy hacking! :beers:

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