Your Resume All Cinched Up In LaTeX


Engineers just do things differently, which is why this hack makes a lot of sense to us. Instead of choosing a platform like Open Office to maintain his resume [Campbell Hennessy] renders his employment and references using LaTeX.

We separate content from styling on the web all the time using CSS and content management systems (Hackaday uses WordPress). And with the online component of employment history and job applications becoming progressively more important it makes a lot of sense to prepare your CV accordingly.

LaTeX is a markup language that makes graphically pleasing typesetting effects a snap. We’ve seen it used to label resistor storage tubes and server side hacks to embed the markup in HTML. If you haven’t tried it out yourself just grab your resume (which probably needs updating anyway), a LaTeX rendering tool of your choice, crack those knuckles, and follow along with [Campbell’s] experience.

59 thoughts on “Your Resume All Cinched Up In LaTeX

    1. Now that’s a nice hack! Will give it a try the coming month as I’m about to graduate/be unemployed.

      I’ve been using LaTeX for all my reports and resumes for years and I really don’t see the hack-value of this post.

  1. I did my resume in LaTeX and it made a huge difference in the number of responses I received. Absolutely do this if you’re job searching. You don’t even have to go to the trouble of making one from scratch, there are hundreds of nice looking templates out there you can grab.

  2. I used to use LaTeX for my cv but last time I was job hunting all the agencies would only accept in Word format, most didn’t even seem to be able to read .pdf. I held out for a while but with bills to pay it was out with OpenOffice and save as .doc :-(

    1. I’m seconding this. A lot of the bigger places use automated systems that are set up to scape text from Word DOC files and cannot process PDF files. IMO, it’s worth writing two resumes, one in DOC and one PDF so that you can send your LaTeX PDF with its impeccable kerning and beautiful ligatures to the people who will read it personally, and your not-so-pretty DOC file to the places where it has to be processed by a machine.

      1. I’d be even more careful. As much as it’s an achievement to use LaTeX to make a pretty resume, agents and companies whom you are applying to don’t give a flying fig and will only accept Word format. I’ve sent PDFs of my CV only to have them come back and ask for a Word doc. And that’s the ones who bother to respond. If you don’t want to put yourself at a disadvantage with job applications then give them what they can comprehend, even if it offends your sensibilities.

        1. I certainly agree that PDF was problematic in the past. I used LaTeX for my CV between 1999 and about 2003. The problem was that almost every company I came into contact with demanded a word document, so I was forced to migrate to Open Office.

          Recently though, i.e. in the last 5 years, everyone I’ve dealt with seems happy to accept PDF so I generally create a PDF from Open Office and only send that as that way I still have some control over how it ends up looking.

          I agree that for certain jobs, everyone you submit your CV to would recognise the typefaces from LaTeX and that could do you some favours, especially in the Maths world, but for other jobs the style can seem just a bit old fashioned…

      2. If you can’t read the job requirements properly (“please submit in Word format”) then what are you going to screw when hired?

        It’s their game, play by their rules.

        I once got a job where they request a .txt resume. Very few read the instructions.

    2. As the others, I used to do this around 2000-2001, I’d actually had a role using latex by then commercially too. I found it was a complete waste of time and effort, as every recruiter and agency would want it in word format. I used to send in .doc .pdf etc but only the .doc mattered. In the end I wrote it in latex, and coverted it the various formats for myself then realized what a waste of effort that was.
      You have to remember the headhunters dont know anything about tech, theyre just keyword matching roles to peoples skillsets. You wont make the slightest impression if you don’t get past them and along to the actual interview with the man who knows at that company, and that means making their life easy as they really don’t know what theyre recruiting for.

  3. Using LaTeX for a resume is pretty much the *opposite* of a hack. (I’ve been doing it that way since 1988.)

    Also LaTeX is a set of macros for TeX. Interested readers should take a look into just who it was that developed TeX…

      1. Such an incredible computer scientist! I really gained a new respect for TeX after reading about why Knuth developed it (typesetting technology was changing in between editions of the Art of Computer Programming, the first time Knuth worked with the publisher to typeset it to his satisfaction by hand, the second he started writing TeX). I couldn’t help but reading about the man after being blown away by his clear and detailed work.
        Yes, I would agree with the comments that this isn’t exactly a hack… but most of my friends at University have never heard of LaTeX or TeX (I know some Universities use it extensively so I am sure that many engineering students have encountered it). After I used it to typeset my fourth year project team report and getting some positive feedback from colleagues (‘you use Make to build your report!?’) I wanted to share it with others who might not have had the opportunity to encounter it.

    1. Yeah, why is this on hackaday? Using LaTeX for what it was designed for is certainly not a hack at all. The first comment reply, the person who wrote a script to generate a LaTeX resume based on a LinkedIn profile is a hack. But the main story of “GUESS WHAT EVERYONE you can use LaTeX to render your resume!” is certainly not a hack and doesn’t belong on hackaday in my opinion.

  4. It works wonders to do this. Although we are supposed to use the standard MS Office products at work I have gotten quite a lot of positive remarks on using LaTeX to typeset in-company course materials and big reports.
    In my opinion any engineer should be able to do this!

  5. Seems like a lot of work for a very average looking résumé. Scribus is more than capable of this and no need to code. And if you have InDesign style sheets make it a snap to use.

  6. Once high ppi displays (“Retina”) get common I’m pretty sure there’s going to be kind of a renaissance for LaTeX. On paper the difference to Word or OO\LO is gigantic. I did it several times over the course of the years, but even with Word 2010 people who have no idea about typesetting immediately point towards the LaTeX printout when asked to choose the better looking one between Word and this.

    When displays are finally good enough to make the jump from rendering text readable to rendering text good looking, LaTeX will make a noticeable difference even for PDFs that only get viewed on screen.

    1. I would believe you except 99% of text is vector. And when you say “typesetting” you are referring to typesetting for a printing press? If that’s the case then yes LaTeX is better because no real printer would accept a file output using word.

      LaTeX was designed for typesetting just like InDesign. Word was designed as a wordprocessor.

    1. I agree, what you do it in, makes no difference to me, and if its not in .pdf format, you go to the read later folder, and if my applicants paste it in an email, I never call them. FYI, I hire IT people all the time, so I am just refering to those.

    2. +1. Isn’t the point of a resume to get a job, and keep it for some decent period of time during which a resume isn’t needed again? If the author needs to update his resume as frequently as he implies, it seems he’s focusing on the wrong things.

      1. I find that updating a resume, if it is well kept, only takes a few minutes. Since I am a student and end up applying for all sorts of odd jobs I need to keep it up to date. Now that I am in the habit, I will probably keep it up to date every six months or so. Not necessarily to look for a job but more so to keep track of what I have done. This way in the future if I need the resume I am confident that it is correct and includes everything of importance. I know at least one person that had held a job for over a decade and then had a very difficult (though not impossible) job of tracking down details on all of their professional development courses and conferences. Talking to her, even though she was very happy in her job she wished she had kept track some how. Obviously, a resume is not the only option (a file folder will do) but it is a usable format.

  7. This is nice, although it’s depressing that it was necessary to explain what LaTeX is..

    Anyway – how to get around the hard limit of one or two page CV without a WYSIWYG editor, and what do you do if the recruitment company/department requires the CV to be uploaded in DOC format, as I find many do ?

  8. Something I’ve considered doing for a while (but never got around to actually doing) was to create a LaTeX macro that would set a block of white-colored text so all the characters would print on top of each other. That way, you could create a block of key words that online job application resume-reading robots would catch, but would be invisible when/if a human actually printed your resume. It’s kind of the same idea as when people try to game search engines by adding key words to html meta tags and headers that never display in a browser.

  9. I quite like LyX ( for doing quick documents. I love the appearance of LaTeX text and equations, but don’t use it often enough that I can remember the various TeX commands. Purists will probably frown, but it still helps a lot!

    Even though MS Office stuff is still mainly used in office/university environments (if you’re writing a quick letter, it’s still a lot easier to fire up Word and type it out), LaTeX seems to have quite a following when doing presentation-quality documents.

    The other powerful feature of LaTeX is the fantastic cross-referencing system. Tables, figures, equations, and literature references are all handled flawlessly. If you have a thesis in several chapters, just do each one separately and have a master file which then includes each chapter. Don’t forget BibTeX for literature references.

    I plunged in at the deep end, because I decided half-way through writing my PhD thesis in Word to switch to doing it in LaTeX instead, having seen how beautiful the output is!

    There are quirks, especially the placement of figures when you have lots of them (LaTeX tries to be clever, which sometimes doesn’t work). And, please, don’t ever try doing a landscape-format wide table over four pages, like I had to do ;-)

  10. Like many here I used to have my resume in TeX/LaTeX, but switched over to Open/LibreOffce for easy conversion to Word since most recruiters and HR’s want it in that format. Is there a DVI to Word converter?

    1. Amen to that. If I was looking for a job as a supermarket janitor’s assistant or VBA “developer”, I’d expect employers who are too dumb to handle PDF. Not in an IT job.

      1. “If I was looking for a job as a supermarket janitor’s assistant or VBA “developer”, I’d expect employers who are too dumb to handle PDF”

        Wow, another huge asshole! Just because someone works in a supermarket means they are “dumb”? Talk about classist bullshit. You know Einstein was a low-level clerk, yeah?

  11. I used latex, but for a few years now, (basser) lout is my first choice.

    Cleaner syntax, everything I need out of the box in a less than 10M installation, community might be small, but everything you need to know is in the 3 given docs (user,expert,design).

    really worth I try!

  12. Apparently no one mentioned one of the other big benefits of writing your resume in LaTeX, which is that you can easy comment or uncomment text to affect what shows up, If you’re applying to several different types of jobs and you want to highlight different things for each, or if you’re playing around with different content, this is a much better solution that saving different conflicting versions of your resume. Everything that you ever put on there can easily just reside in the .tex file for easy recall later.

  13. Back in 1997 I did my master’s thesis in LateX because I saw how nice it was to have complete control over the formatting instead of Word’s way of restricting slight formatting changes. Unfortunately, my thesis reviewer had to read it through a browser and it didn’t work right (his PC was ancient compared to the NeXT PC I was using anyway), so I just said screw it and went back to Word to get through the thesis review without delay. Nowadays, it’s easier to read PDFs, but with a lot of people I know using Word’s editing features to help review docs, Word is what I have to use.

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