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 process.
• 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.