Employers will only know about you what the resume tells them. That
puts a heavy burden on the resume to visually communicate desired
qualities. A neat, well-organized resume indicates a neat,
well-organized candidate. A resume that is free of typographical and
grammatical errors indicates a careful and competent person. A clear,
concise resume indicates a clear thinker. Be careful when using your
software's spell check program-you may misspell a word but the program
accepts it as correct (e.g., "too" instead of "two"). Be aware that
any error can land your resume in the wastebasket. Always have someone
else read your resume before accepting it as the final version.
General Guidelines for Maximum Visual Appeal:
• Keep your resume to one page. Employers rarely have time to read
more than one page per candidate.
• Use plenty of white space between sections of your resume.
• Try to keep one-inch margins around the page.
• Use indention to set off achievement statements.
• Use a 12-point, easy to read font such as Times Roman. Smaller font
sizes may not be picked up in the scanning process. Sometimes it is
necessary to use smaller font so that all information fits on one
page. In this case, be sure to go no smaller than a10 point font.
• Italics and underlining may be used if necessary, but keep in mind
that their overuse can make your resume difficult to read. It may
also be difficult for scanners to pick up key words that are
italicized or underlined.
• Put your section headings in all caps and bold type. You may either
center or align section headings at the left margin. Whichever you
choose, be consistent throughout the document.
• Use only a letter quality printer for your resume. Ideally, it
should be laser printed on white or off-white, 25% cotton bond
paper. Use the same paper for the cover letter when mailing your
resume to an employer. Avoid using linen or parchment paper and
colors other than white or off-white. It may be tempting to use
colors or special paper to make your resume stand out from the
crowd, but these can all interfere with the reading and scanning
• Use a chronological format rather than a skills or functional
format. Functional formats lead the reader to suspect that you have
something to hide.
Sending Your Resume via Email
A fast growing method of applying for jobs in this Internet economy
is email. It is an almost instant means of communicating with an
employer. For this reason, it appeals to applicants and hiring
managers alike. The most important thing to remember is that not all
email systems function the same. Of course this does not come as a
surprise to you, but the implications for the job search are very
important. First, since the messages you send will look very different
to the recipient than they do to you, it is best to leave out the
formatting used to make your paper resume visually appealing. Thus,
before sending it, save a Word document as a plain text document and
cut and paste it into the body of your email message. By not using an
attachment, you avoid the risk of inadvertently infecting the
recipient's computer with a virus. Write your email message as you
would any cover letter. As a courtesy, send a hard copy of your resume
to the recipient (don't forget the cover letter!) so they will have a
nicely formatted version for their files. Include in your email
message a statement to that effect.