When writing a resume, many of us pay so much attention to content that we find ourselves neglecting form and proper design. We list all relevant skills, achievements, education and more in intricate detail and we end up not giving enough of our time to the effort of designing a resume that actually looks good. The lesson that all resume writers need to learn, if their resume is going to be effective in getting a job interview, is that the attractiveness of a resume – its actual look and feel – can be just as important as its content.
A major part of any job is the ability to craft well-written, attractive corporate communications. Internal and external email, presentations to clients and peers, press releases, interoffice memos and more are all examples of the level of professional writing required at in varying degrees all levels of employment. It is crucial to understand that a resume isn’t just a selling piece. It’s also a tryout and a preview of your ability to create professionally-written, effective, attractive written communication. The look of any piece of business writing is just as important as what it says. Just like you will wear proper attire to the job interview, you need to dress your resume and all other writing in an attractive package to convey a sense of professionalism.
White Space is Important
One very important factor that contributes to a resume’s overall look and feel is white space. All details of a resume should be chronicled in brief, bulleted lists. All paragraphs should be kept short and adequate spacing should be used between sections. White space draws the eye, makes the reader comfortable and creates a piece of writing that is easy to consume. Contrast this with margin to margin blocks of text with no room to breathe and you’ll see how a resume with adequate white space is so much more attractive and preferable.
The “One Page” Rule is Outdated
White space, short lists filled with bullet points, a good amount of spacing and multiple short paragraphs all will consume room on the resume. This means that your resume may go over a page in length, especially if you have a lot of good, relevant experience to convey. There is no reason to sacrifice the look of a resume to adhere to the outdated “one page” rule. If your resume is well-written and designed properly, no employer should have a problem reading a second page. Remember that this is not to say you shouldn’t edit yourself. But if you’ve had someone proof read and the resume has been edited and flows nicely, a second page is not a problem.
Proof Read, and then Get Someone Else to Do it, Too
Spelling and grammar are crucial. No employer will take a resume with easy to avoid errors seriously. To them, it portrays you as a careless worker.
Sure, your word processing program has a spell check function built into it. But does it know the difference between “your” and “you’re” if grammar check is not enabled? What if you type “out” instead of “but?” Remember that spell check is a good first step in the proofing process.
Don’t rely solely on yourself for proof reading, either. Because you already know what your writing is supposed to say, it’s easy to overlook errors. Instead, find a friend or family member, or even several, and have them read your resume, too. They will catch more errors and they may even have constructive feedback about your content and layout, too.
Is it possible to use the wrong font on a resume? Don’t laugh; many have. Always remember that this is a professional piece of business communication. Comic Sans might look great on an advertisement for a lemonade stand, but not for a memo, presentation or resume. Choose a professional, conservative font like Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman. The “dressing for the interview” analogy extends here, as that lime green vest might get attention, but not the good kind of attention.
Be Neat with your Printouts
It’s hard to believe that we’re still using inkjet printers today. No matter how careful you are, it seems that inkjets always smear or leave blotches. This is particularly true when printing envelopes, which seem to never print without a mess when using ink. Unless there’s no way at all you can do so, try to get access to a laser printer for your cover letter, resume and envelope. Your aim is to create a very neat, professional total package.
Resume writers often get trapped by content, paying too much attention to substance and forgetting about style. Always remember that humans are visual first, and apply this rule to your resume and you will get results.