Your resume: your career history, your years of education, your commitment to your employers, your dreams, all ascribed on a sheet of white or ecru paper titled, at the top, with your name. But to be effective, a resume must adhere to one rule: information must be delivered in an attractive, efficient, and easily accessible manner.
The properly prepared resume of a less-experienced candidate can trump a poor resume from a more-experienced candidate. The difference between a good resume and a bad one is the difference between a new job and continued unemployment. But armed with the proper instruction on how to negotiate the art, writing a powerful, clear resume can be as easy as filling out a form. Here are a few simple rules about a resume's basic look.
Don't get creative. Really. What you want in a font is not a decorative design choice, but a simple, easily read font that shows you mean business. In other words, when looking for a font, think gray suit.
Courier font: If you didn't have to write your cover letter on a 1930s travel typewriter, why make it look like you did? This font looks like the default font of a malfunctioning computer and is also notorious as the typeface that mediocre high school students use because of its massive, page-filling size. Do you really want such a dishonest font representing your words?
Say no to anything that looks remotely like handwriting or hints at it, like italicized versions of regular fonts. This is a business document, not a thank you note to a neighbor. And these fonts are difficult to read. ~
Avoid any font that looks like it would be more appropriate on a mediaeval manuscript or the label of a malt-liquor bottle. No Ye Olde Fonts. No historical-period fonts at all, for that matter. No art-deco twenties, no early-80s computer geekdom.
Whatever you choose, remember this: what impresses readers the most should not be the letters on the page but the words they spell.
A stroll through most business supply stores will reveal a sea of paper choices, from traditional plain white to hot pink and purple. Outlandishly colored resumes are to be used by people whose jobs demand more dramatic visual statements: hairdressers, fashion designers and clowns. The rest of us need to focus on the understated dignity of whites, light grays, and ecru. Use the same paper for your cover letter.
While many employers say they do not focus their attentions on the envelope a document is sent in, others do. To some, a resume's wrapper can be a factor in their evaluation. Shannon Heidkamp, the recruiting manager for a division of Allstate Insurance says, "If a resume is being sent snail mail, the envelope should be typed." Typing the envelope is especially important if you have messy handwriting.
Since so many business now scan resumes into computers, so they can be better accessed for future reference, a job applicant has to consider a few additional factors about his resume's appearance.
Scanners often have a difficult time reading underlined, italicized and bolded text or any unusual font (which you shouldn't be using anyway). Scanning also can create problems for those who write their resumes on anything but plain white paper. Even gray and white-flecked paper has been known to cause problems on picky scanners. A good way to test your paper's scanability is to photocopy your resume printed on the paper you plan on using. If the copy comes out blurred, dark, specked, or anything but white, think again about sending it out to a big company: their scanners might not be able to distinguish the information on the page from the page itself.
While the resumes are often organized according to the industry, they are most often pulled from within those categories by keyword searches, which means that it's more important than ever that you use the correct terminology in describing your knowledge and experience.