This is a blog post by Heather E., our Campus Ambassador for the University of Notre Dame. Heather is also one of Intern Queen&s very own interns this fall!
This is a continuation of a blog I wrote in June. To read Extreme Makeover: Résumé Edition, follow this link: http://www.internqueen.com/blog/2011/06/extreme-makeover-resume-edition/
Extreme Makeover: Résumé Edition dealt a lot with content. Part II deals with how your résumé looks. Before becoming a Business and Psychology double major, I majored in Graphic Design. One of my very favorite lessons was when we completely redid our resumes to make them more aesthetically pleasing. That might sound superficial or unnecessary, but it isn’t. Designing your resume does not mean adding colors or illustrations, but rather refers to optimal use of typography, spacing, and arrangement. A well-designed resume can be more appealing to potential employers without them even realizing why they are drawn to it. It also helps you to convey your information more effectively. While each resume is unique and should reflect your personal taste, I will pass on some of the tips that were given to me, from the simple basics that you probably already know to more sophisticated design tips.
#1 Rules are for amateurs. By rules I mean lines. If you have a horizontal line crossing your page to separate a heading from the information, get rid of it! The same goes for underlining things to make them stand out. There are other (better!) ways to emphasize things.
#2 It is ok to use more than one font. Differentiate your headings and your personal information from the bulk information by using a different font. If you do this, make sure one is a serif font and one is sans serif. If you don’t know what that means, Google it! Life skill! Also, you want the two fonts to be different, but you want their “x height” to match. To check this, type a lowercase x in each font and make sure they are the same height. This means the fonts are compatible and it will make your resume look very put together.
#3 Order is important. At the top, put your personal information (name, email, address, etc.). Then comes your education section. Then work experience. Then any special skills (ex: leadership, volunteerism, computer skills, language skills, etc.). End with awards/recognition like the Dean’s List. This is personal preference thing, but if you are unsure of what order to do things in – follow the above guidelines.
#4 Only use three types of differentiation; one of which should always be size. In order to direct your reader’s eye to what is important you need to differentiate between categories of information. You can do this by making some things bold, italicized, larger or smaller size, underlined (try to avoid that!) or different fonts. You can do multiple at a time. I always do my headings (education, work experience, etc.) in bold and in a different font than the information under those headings. In your whole resume, there should only be three types of differentiation used. If you use all of the things I mentioned above, there is just too much going on and your reader will become distracted or confused!
#5 Consistency is key. Whatever you do to one heading, you should do to all the headings. That seems pretty intuitive. But when you are constantly updating your résumé and changing the style, you might miss italicizing a word or section. If you don’t check it over and catch that inconsistency, a potential employer will. The same goes for typos. The best way to avoid missing something is to give it to someone else to look over with a fresh eye. Often, your school’s career center will do this for you. Use your career center!!!
#6 Don’t use regular printer paper. You would be amazed at how many people just print their résumés off on regular paper. That’s no good! Invest in résumé paper. You can buy some at Staples, Office Depot or at various sites online like www.neenahpaper.com. Don’t go too crazy with linen or parchment paper with the light blue cloudy design. Just get something simple and slightly heavier than everyday paper.
#7 Update, update, update! Your résumé is a living, breathing document, kind of like the Bible (forgive me, Lord, for that blasphemy). As such, it should constantly be evolving. Each time you win a new award, or land a new job/internship, make sure you update your résumé immediately. Also, please tailor your résumé for each position before you apply! It only takes a minute to tweak it. It may seem like a hassle, but it greatly improves your chances of getting the job/internship if your résumé actually matches up with the job description.