What Is a Resume Icon? (With Types and Helpful Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 10, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

You may consider making your resume more appealing to the hiring manager by adding a creative element. Putting icons on your resume is one way you can achieve this. Learning more about icons and how to use them on a resume can help you use them effectively. In this article, we define resume icons, explain why you might use them, list the different types, give steps on how to include them, and highlight helpful tips for using them.

What is a resume icon?

A resume icon is typically a small image or graphic that you can place next to a text or section on your resume to represent the information in it. Icons exist in different sizes, shapes, and symbols, and you can use them to symbolize various sections of your resume. For example, an icon representing a telephone number may contain an image of a phone, while an icon representing an e-mail address may contain an image of an envelope.

Why consider putting icons on your resume

You may put icons on your resume to make it more appealing so that the hiring manager can focus on key pieces of information. Before placing an icon on your resume, consider your field of work, your potential employer, and your resume's overall style or tone. If you're applying for a job in a highly creative role, putting a brightly coloured or artistic icon can be a way to show your competence and enhance your resume.

If you're applying for roles such as a doctor or an accountant, ensure you don't put icons on your resume. That can help potential employers avoid distractions. Icons also allow you to place contrasting or unrelated skills or experiences next to each other. For example, you can state your proficiency in a programming language alongside your expert skills in preparing a specific food with the proper icons.

Related: What Is the Standard Canadian Resume Format? (With 7 Tips)

Types of icons you can use on your resume

There are various types of icons you can use to make your resume more appealing, including:

Personal information

Your personal information section includes your name, phone number, and e-mail address, which allows the hiring manager to contact you. It's the most popular place to have an icon. Examples of icons to include here are a telephone to represent your phone number and an envelope to represent your e-mail address.

Resume introduction

Your resume introduction typically contains your resume summary or objective statement, depending on which applies to you. The objective statement is generally a short paragraph of one to two sentences explaining your professional goals and why you're applying for the job. You may consider using an image of an arrow because it's what frequently symbolizes targets. A resume summary is a brief paragraph that shows your relevant skills, accomplishments, and work experience. If you're writing a resume summary, you may consider using an image of a paper with lines on it.

Work experience

Your work experience section usually contains more details than other parts of your resume. You use it to explain your previous roles, state your employers, list your primary duties, and show the duration of each position. The most common symbol for this is an office bag, which you can use alone or with other symbols such as paper. Another typical icon for the work experience section is a gear image with a clock or watch.

Social media

If you include links to your social media profiles, you can add icons in front of the URL on your resume. When using these icons, ensure you put the appropriate logo for each social media rather than a generic logo. If you also have a website or a blog, you can include it in this section and a minimal version of your website's logo.

Education

The education section shows your academic background and achievements, including the awards you may have received. The standard icon for this section is a graduate hat or a diploma, which you put at the section header. You may also combine both symbols using different styles or search the internet for other variants of both symbols to use for your educational background.

Certifications

Your resume may have additional sections where you give other pieces of relevant information that you can't fit in the core sections. For instance, you can add a certifications section to showcase all the credentials you've earned. Using a ribbon icon can help indicate that you're listing your certifications.

Related: Online Portfolio (With Benefits and Steps to Create One)

How to include icons on your resume

Follow the steps below to include icons on your resume:

1. Search the internet for icons

It's a good idea to search the internet for various websites with free icons to use for your resume. You may also search for resume-building websites, as most of these provide icons for creating your resume for the first time. Make sure you can use the icons without any legal restrictions.

2. Choose the appropriate style

It's beneficial to let icons match your resume style. For example, if your resume is of a minimalist design, select icons that are also minimalist. Using icons aligned with your resume style shows visual coherence and may demonstrate your graphic abilities.

3. Apply icons to the relevant places

For best results, only apply icons to the appropriate and recommended places, which are the section headers and the personal information section. Ensure you use icons alongside texts and not alone or as replacements for headers and other information. It's beneficial to avoid including too many icons on your resume, as this can visually distract the hiring manager.

Related: The Purpose of a Resume for Candidates and Employers

Tips for putting icons on your resume

Below are best practices to consider when including icons on your resume:

Use them only when necessary

Putting an icon on your resume can make it visually appealing, but ensure you're doing it only when necessary. Consider the position and the industry. For example, if you're applying for a web developer position, using icons to make your resume more colourful can be appealing to the hiring manager.

Icons can also cause issues with the applicant tracking system (ATS) that many companies now use to screen resumes and sort job applicants. These programs typically parse the resumes into plain texts so that hiring managers can easily search them. Having unrecognized icons might cause the ATS to skip the information in those graphics.

Use simple icons

You can be creative with the icons you put on your resume, but you want to keep them simple. The purpose of the resume is to display your skills and professional experience and not to display the icons. Putting complex designs can direct the hiring manager's attention away from the primary content of your resume. Ensure icons are also small to enable you to have space to put your qualifications and skills. Keeping icons at a minimal size can help improve the overall readability of your resume.

Use them with section headers

Besides knowing when to use resume icons, ensure you know where to put them. There are mainly two places where icons are the most effective on a resume. The first is the personal information section, where you can place an icon in front of each piece of information. The second is at section headers, such as education, skills, and experience. Having the icons in front of the headers alone typically suffices, but you may also put them before the information under each header. A typical example is putting logos of your former employers in the work experience section.

Create your icons

If you want to create personalized icons, you can use various design software programs available or search the internet for free web-based design services. These tools generally provide free icons and resume templates, which enable you to build your resume for the first time. You can also download these icons as portable network graphics (PNG) files. PNG files have transparent backgrounds, so you can easily incorporate them into your resume without cutting into its text. It's beneficial to create professional and straightforward icons instead of intricate and cartoon-style ones to avoid appearing unprofessional.

Consider different colours

Try out various colour palettes for the icons on your resume, especially if you're in the creative industry. Icons help add flair to your resume, so using different colours can make it more interesting and appealing. For example, if you're using a modern design with a standard deep blue PNG icon, you may consider combining it with purple.

Use icons of similar styles

If you decide to use more than one icon on your resume, it's best to use icons of the same style or that aesthetically resemble. Using icons of similar style can help harmonize the different sections of your resume. It also helps avoid distractions for the hiring manager.

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