If you’re applying for a creative-type role like design or marketing, then your resume is in of itself a portfolio piece; go forth and customise the design to your pleasure! Even for other roles, if you have an eye for design, Canva can be a great way to whip up something slick (they even have free resume templates).
However, from a risk minimisation perspective, I'd recommend staying closer to the classic resume format.
If design isn't really your strong suit, poor design choices could impact readability or give the recruiter a negative first impression before they've even had a chance to read your experience.
And if you're applying to larger companies, some firms and recruiters may also still hold a perception that colourful resumes are less 'professional'. Even though startups may care less about these sort of formalities, often their employees have come from bigger companies anyway, so going with that ‘standard’ resume format isn’t going to ruin your chances.
From a more technical perspective, there's also the consideration that a lot of larger companies with formal online job listings use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs). Using a non-traditional resume format, custom graphics, or overly colourful backgrounds may create difficulties for resume scanners that try to pull information and keywords from your resume (and some colours may not display as intended on the ATS).
At the end of the day, If you’ve got the right experiences and you’re wording it well with clear and consistent formatting, you’re not going to get rejected just because your resume was in black-and-white with a traditional font and bullet-point layout.
Okay, what’s this ‘classic' look?
Colour scheme? Black text on white background. Can’t go wrong with high readability.
Serif or sans-serif? Either is fine, not mission critical, but ensure it’s something elegant and readable. Best to keep a consistent font throughout the resume, or one font for headings, one for body.
Computer Modern, Helvetica, Garamond, Caslon, Arial and Lato are some of my preferences. Times New Roman is a bit too boomer, but maybe that’s just me.
If I were Prime Minister, I would legally ban Comic Sans, Chiller, Joker, Papyrus so recruiters didn’t have to suffer. Don’t get too cheeky with the font choice!
Font size? Depends on the font, but enough that someone can comfortably read a printed out resume without squinting. Usually sizes 10-12 tend to be fine.
White space? Minimise unnecessary blank space so you can try and fit in more information on that 1 page, but there is a limit here. Make sure it’s still sufficiently spaced to be read clearly and to demarcate resume sections.
Now when it comes to visuals, I’ve seen this a fair bit, but I’d advise against putting a photo of yourself on your resume.
This opens up much greater potential for conscious or subconscious discrimination by race, gender or religion, especially since a colour photo on a black-and-white resume is the first thing a reader’s eyes will jump to. Your resume should be about your skills, not your looks (okay, maybe an edge case if you’re applying for a modelling job).
Document type? Submitting as a PDF is increasingly becoming the way to go, because it preserves the formatting regardless of what computer or program is used to open it. Word docs can get a little...funky