Job Search: Create a Professional-Looking Résumé
In a tough market where you’d love your application to jump out at an employer, it is tempting to try gimmicks to get noticed. Before submitting your material on bright purple paper, however, think about the overall impression you are creating. Catching someone’s eye for the wrong reasons can lead to questions about your professionalism.
“The point of a résumé is not to be flamboyant, but to be professionally attractive and informative,” says Dale Austin, director of the Career Development Center at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. To that end, Austin offers these tips for maximizing impact:
- Watch your size.
“The actual content of the résumé should be between 11 and 13 point font size, depending on how much content you have for your résumé. I would not go smaller than 11-point font for readability sake.”
- Use a reader-friendly font.
“While there is not really a standard on which font to use, Times New Roman seems to be used fairly consistently. The best standard is to use good judgment.”
- Choose good-quality paper.
“Common paper stock is 20-weight, which is too light. Use a heavier grade paper available from any office supply store. A heavier grade paper is more substantive and holds up better at recruiting events, such as job fairs. It will not get crinkly.”
- Pay attention to margins.
“You do not want your résumé to look cramped or tight, but you do not want the margins to be so big that it looks like you don’t have a lot to say.”
- Boldface and capitalize appropriately.
“When applicants boldface something, the purpose is to differentiate the résumé’s content. The entire résumé should not be bolded. Likewise, if everything is capitalized, the résumé comes off looking too busy.”
Finally, remember that no matter how good your résumé looks, there is one thing that can make all your efforts worthless. “What is of absolute importance is that there not be a single error,” Austin notes.