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Today, I've written my resume in LaTeX and it looks great and all

It took me about 2 hours to get everything right

But I've been thinking, what benefits do I get from writing it in LaTeX rather than in a word processor like MS Word or OOo Writer?

I'm not comparing TeX/LaTeX to those programs, but I just want to know if TeX is the right choice for resumes.

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13 Answers

up vote 49 down vote accepted
  • I think a resume is more typesetting than word processing, so I would not use MS Word or OOo Writer. One could use Indesign or a free layout program.

  • Often resumes contain text in columns. Text in narrow columns is hard to wrap--TeX does a good job here. For even better justification use microtype with pdfLaTeX. I think with microtype the chance to avoid big gaps or lots of hyphenation is better than with word processors.

  • It's good if the resume matches the covering letter. Since LaTeX is great for letters, for example with the scrlttr2 class, it would naturally be a good choice for the resume.

  • There are specialized LaTeX classes. Though I prefer a class matching the class for the covering letter, such as scrartcl together with scrlttr2. tabularx does already good work then.

  • A resume can be used for many years in your working life, it will grow with the time. LaTeX is stable and remains mostly compatible, so you can reuse your resume when you apply for the next job in 10 years. Imagine, you would have used Works or Starwriter many years ago... you would require old software and an old operating system to reuse an old word processing document. With LaTeX it would be much easier.

  • ConTeXt, which is based on TeX, gives you even more control over typesetting.

On TeX tips, written by John D. Cook, I found a link where Dan McGee shares his experiences:

While looking what others say to this question, I found Matthew M. Boedicker's Tips together with links to resume templates and examples on

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Your answer is the most informative so far, and the "Why I do my resume in LaTeX" link is just what I was looking for, thank you. –  Mahmoud Hossam Feb 24 '11 at 19:12
    
These are good answers, I would add one more: LaTex is version control friendly. You can store all your changes in, for example, git and track exactly what changed when, branch between versions and so on. You can't do that with complex binary files. –  Jack Aidley Jan 31 '13 at 13:36
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You get more proficient with LaTeX. :)

Seriously: the code is plain text, so you will be able to re open the document in 10, 20 years and extract at least some information from it. And for my documents I don't know if this is necessary or not, but I like it when I know that this is possible.

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Mostly, the benefits you get are the same ones you would get from doing any document in LaTeX instead of a word processor.

Basically with LaTeX you can focus on the content rather than the formatting. The document is plain text and therefore shareable, compressible, source-controllable, and future-proof but easily compileable to PDF at any time.

In the particular case of a resumé, you'll find that converting from one style to another is often a question of modifying a command in the header. Also most resumé packages deal gracefully with multi-language needs.

A few points, I hope that they illustrate what you're getting. LaTeX is simply the best format for writing documents.

(as an aside, LaTeX can not only replace Writer et al, but also Impress quite easily - see the beamer package)

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In many cases I focussed much more on formatting then on the actual contents. Placing objects on a page can be a daunting job in LaTeX. –  topskip Feb 24 '11 at 16:48
    
Patrick here has a point, It took me a while to get used to the many options of LaTeX, and how they should be used, instead of focusing on the content as you said. –  Mahmoud Hossam Feb 24 '11 at 17:05
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LaTeX certainly has a steep learning curve. But once you know what you are doing, it's totally worth it. I wrote a thirty page thesis in a night in LaTeX, complete with a table of contents, graphs, and bibliography. I don't think I could have done that in Word. (To be fair, during the work for the thesis, I kept my bib file up to date.) –  Tom Macdonald Feb 28 '11 at 23:06
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I believe it is independent of the actual type of the document you are writing. For many years I had been using MS Word, later OO Writer, but when I saw the quality LaTeX could provide I didn't hesitate for a second to throw out everything and start all over with LaTeX.

You write your resumé in LaTeX because it gives you fine control and superior quality, both of which are of utmost importance with this type of document. The very purpose of the resumé is to impress the reader with both looks and content. You have to provide the content, and LaTeX, with your help, can provide the looks.

And more generally, almost anything you typeset in LaTeX even with no or very limited customization will look much better than anything you write using Word or Writer.

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But both writer and Word as easier to use, since they're GUIs after all, and they have WYSIWYG, something I don't think is present in any TeX editor till now –  Mahmoud Hossam Feb 24 '11 at 19:08
    
@Phobia: I don't see why would any editor/wordprocessor or any program in general be superior just because it has a GUI interface. But if that is what you are after, try Gummi. –  Heisenb0rg Feb 24 '11 at 20:53
    
where exactly have I said they were superior, I said they were easier to use, this doesn't necessarily mean they're superior in any way –  Mahmoud Hossam Feb 24 '11 at 21:00
    
See also: LyX. –  nmichaels Feb 25 '11 at 16:49
    
@Phobia: I was under the impression GUI meaning ease of use also meant superiority. Sorry if I misunderstood you. WYSIWYG is "what you see is what you get", but I so rarely saw what I really wanted. In other words, in, say, Word it is easy to get something done but close to impossible to get it done right. So I don't see the GUI as something that really equals ease. –  Heisenb0rg Feb 25 '11 at 19:06
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You use the tool you are more accustomed too e.g. if I'm to write a resume then ConTeXt is my natural choice unless it need to supplied in some weird format (.doc or something). Fighting an office suit to just write a few pages document would be a crazy choice of me.

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there are tools that convert from TeX to doc :) –  Mahmoud Hossam Feb 24 '11 at 19:11
    
I completely agree. I am not going to start learning how to use Word of Open Office just to get my resume done. I already know TeX, it does the job very well, why use something else? In fact, I would have to first install Open Office, or even a completely new operating system in order to use Word, on my computer. –  Jan Hlavacek Feb 24 '11 at 19:47
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Besides all the answers here, I have recently modularized my resume with TeX. With this I can quickly build my resume for a variety of different jobs. The basic idea is:

\documentclass{article}

\begin{document}
\input{qualifications-Software-QA-Manager}
%\input{qualifications-Tech-Writer}

\end{document}

So I can just uncomment the appropriate sections, and build a completely different resume. My sections are more defined than this, but I've found it to be a major plus when applying for many jobs.

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I tend to do this the other way around, importing a file that specifies common text (usually using Context's \startbuffer...\stopbuffer) into separate master documents. I generally want to handle formatting and job-specific information together. –  Charles Stewart Feb 28 '11 at 14:37
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I write my CVs in MS-word and used to send employment agencies a PDF copy. On several occasions, I have been requested the original MS-Word version. On one occasion, I got to see just what the agency had sent the prospective employer - they had edited my resume, added their own banner and removed direct contact information.

You may find using anything other than MS-Word may cause problems if your employment agency wishes to apply edits before passing it on.

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Exporting from Latex to RTF may be useful if you have to deal with such agencies. –  Charles Stewart Feb 28 '11 at 14:41
    
Yes, this is definitely a problem with trying to be clever and creating a CV in LaTeX. Sure, it's beautiful, but agencies won't accept it. Unfortunately Latex2Rtf doesn't work reliably for me, and after a day of searching I've still not found a good solution. –  CJBrew Oct 31 '11 at 15:42
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you could ask the agency for their logo and details, show them how a REAL document gets formatted, they may offer you a consulting gig to fix up the resumes for all their other clients.... –  Nicholas Hamilton Dec 21 '12 at 17:08
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If you are a scientist, you will probably need to add a list of publications, conference talks, and similar things to your cv. This is very nicely, and easily handled in LaTeX. With MSWord or OOWriter it gets really messy, expecilay if you have to keep updated your cv in different languages.

LaTeX is also a nice format to store in a revision control system to track different revision of the cv you hand out to different people in different contexts, and its evolution in time.

Have a look at this nice article http://robjhyndman.com/researchtips/cv/.

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I have a beautiful cv written with XeTeX using the suggestions/template I found at http://nitens.org/taraborelli/cvtex

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One intangible benefit: you are signalling to an employer that you have taste, a certain degree of intellect, and a bit of non-crowd-following behavior. When resumes come across my desk, I give a mental +1 to TeX-formatted resumes. The only resumes that get a higher bump are plain ascii ones.

It also draws attention from potential employers who appreciate TeX.

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Yeah, but then there was the time when I was applying to a large corporation for a LaTeX-typesetting position, submitted my résumé as a .tex file, and was told they couldn't open it and needed a copy done as a Word .doc. –  WillAdams Dec 19 '13 at 17:06
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Well I did my resume in Latex and switched back to OpenOffice. I'm not a LaTeX/TeX junkie though I use it a lot.

LaTeX is nice for long pieces of text, like thesis, article, presentation, when you either are eager to spend much time making it look great (I find customizing looks of papers cumbersome in TeX) or don't care about looks (then stick to defaults --- and then it will look ok). You cant stick to defaults in your CV, and I was never willing to spend couple of hours on just formatting my CV.

Also LaTeX is most effective when writing long pieces of text --- you format it once and it will look great (formatting long piecies of text --- like thesis --- in OO or MSOffice is a pain). CVs are short, so there is little benefit.

It's much easier to do layout of graphical elements in WYSWIG editor. Write -> Compile -> see .pdf cycle is cumbersome.

It's easier to give your CV for review to someone who does not use TeX (well most people who'd I give my resume for review are).

Having said all this: it's possible that I will in future switch back to writing CV in LaTeX (or most probably LyX with custom TeX code).

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I agree. It is easier to make your CV look distinctive in WYSWIG editor than in TeX. Using the default settings for a TeX document makes your resume look the same as everyone elses (eg, same font, same layout, same margins). It becomes pointless to do it this way because there was no creative or technical input at all. –  Apprentice Queue Jan 6 '12 at 23:30
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Everyone seems to be focused on looks and I see many multipage layouts for CVs in the links, but the content is often the most important, and unless you do think in pink and black with a comics font, the look is quite secondary. The content and conciseness are the things that will make a difference.

Here is what a friend from Microsoft says:

No one commented about the people who are actually going to read the resume. :) When I go through resumes for phone screening or interviews. I don't care how nice or well presented a resume is. As long as it's short and well summarized. In addition, having a solid resume with recommendations on LinkedIn seems to be getting more important efficient these days...

It seems to me that serious candidates will do nice resume, wether it is with LaTex or something else, thus the focus should really be on the content. In that, the fact that latex will allow you to focus on that might be good, but if you spend more time hacking a style for your resume, you are not augmenting your skills on the content ;)

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I absolutely agree that the content is first and foremost -- unfortunately, that's not how most HR departments/managers around the world think. Non-technical decision-makers use the only metric they can -- does your resume look good or not. This is the very first step that is taken to weed out the few promising candidates among everybody who has applied for the job, and ask them for an interview. After that, it's only your skills and knowledge that matter. But getting to that phase is going to be difficult with just a 'meh' resume. –  Martin Tapankov Feb 25 '11 at 8:28
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No one commented about the content because it is not the point being discussed, the question is not "how to write a resume" or "what is a good resume" but whether latex would add a value to a resume or not, after all this is a question about tex site not about resume writing. –  Khaled Hosny Feb 28 '11 at 16:05
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I like moderncv LaTeX class, it just fit my needs, and the output is really clean.

See : http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/macros/latex/contrib/moderncv/

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