When writing a resume, many job seekers only consider the content of their resume. They often get too wrapped up in the summary of their employment, skills, accomplishments and their education background that they don’t pay enough attention to the resume layout and design. While it is of the utmost importance to write a dynamic, concise resume full of targeted information that focuses on one specific job and employer, it is equally important to consider the look and feel of your resume.
A resume is a preview of your writing skill and your ability to craft professional communications. Official communications, both internal and external, like well as presentations, memos, press releases and many other forms of professional writing may all be required of you, and your resume is the first impression you will give the employer of your ability to design a well made piece of communication. Consider your resume part of the job interview and you will see the importance of creating a well-designed resume. Just as you would wear a nice suit to an interview, you should design a smart-looking resume to attract the employer’s attention. Looks do matter in this case.
One factor that goes into the look of a resume is white space. By listing your employment and education details in short, bulleted lists, you leave white space on your resume. This is much more pleasing to the eye than wide expanses of ink, and is also easy to read and digest. Always remember to keep your details to-the-point and you’ll have plenty of attractive white space as “breathing room” for the reader.
The paper you choose is important. Now is not the time for the cheap photocopy paper in your company’s multifunction. Buy some higher quality stationary paper at an office supply store. White or slightly off-white is good. Don’t be tempted by pastels or packets of “resume paper.” Parchment-type paper and other ostentatious choices are just too much. Keep it simple but not cheap.
Conventional wisdom for resume length has always been “don’t go over one page.” This is just not the case. If you are writing a bulleted resume full of short lists with plenty of white space, but you have a lot of experience and there’s just no way to avoid a second page, ignore this old rule. It’s better to include all your important details than to dogmatically stick to this outdated guideline. Just be sure that you’re going to a second page for the right reasons. If you simply lack the ability to properly edit yourself, find a proof reader and get some help before considering page two.
Choice of font says a lot. Remember that you are writing a piece of business communication. Nobody in their right mind uses Comic Sans, Stencil, Gothic or any of the other strange fonts in Microsoft Word for a memo in the office. Using strange fonts in a resume will certainly make you stand out, but not in a good way. Stick with a conservative font like Times New Roman or Arial for your resume.
Neatness is always crucial. Inkjet printers tend to smear regardless of how careful you are. Unless it is impossible, try to use a laser printer for your resume and cover letter. While you’re at it, print an envelope on the same printer. There’s no reason to go through the effort of printing a resume and cover letter on high quality paper with a laser printer, only to stuff them into a hand-scribbled envelope. Your whole package must be neat from start to finish.
Use all proofing tools at your disposal. Your word processor program does come with a spelling checker and you should use it, but don’t make that the first and last step in the proofing process. Spell check may find misspelled words, but it will certainly miss words that are correctly spelled but misused. Consider “they’re, there and their,” for example. Instead of possibly making the one grammatical error that causes your resume to be tossed to the dustbin, proof read your resume carefully. Remember, though, you often burn yourself out in the writing process and then you’re apt to miss mistakes, so find a friend or two and have them proofread as well. Rewrite according to their feedback to make your professional resume even better.
Don’t fall into the trap of paying too much attention to content and not enough to form. Use these tips to craft a resume that is both full of substance AND style.