Your Resume Presentation

The last few weeks I’ve spent hours painting.  I painted one wall a dark red, which complements a dark tan and a mustard yellow.  I didn’t think it would look good but they all look very nice together.

A fresh coat of paint has made a huge difference in the presentation of our house.

Have you ever seen that?  Compare the difference between an old worn-out barn with peeling paint to the barns famous in New England that are pristine

Think about your resume.  I’ll admit I’m not a resume expert, but it seems to me you have two significant factors in the success of your resume:

The Presentation – this is how it looks.  From the font, to the paper, from the placement of things to how much white space is on your resume, the presentation is critical.  As a hiring manager I remember discarding resumes just because they looked off.  They were weird… I couldn’t imagine that someone who didn’t take enough time to at least get the easy part of their resume done right would take the time to do the job right, if I were to hire them.  They failed before they even had a chance to interview.

The Substance – I’ll talk more about this later in the week, but basically this is whether you have the credibility and credentials to do the job.  More later…

Back to the resume presentation… is this important?  Is it wrong for me, as a hiring manager, to discard a resume simply because the presentation is not what I’m expecting?  Whether it’s right or wrong for me to do that, I know it happens.  And if it happens, and you can avoid it, you should do what you can.  Here are some tips on resume presentation:

  • White space. How much?  A lot.  If I pick up a resume that has so much text I know I’m going to need to spend more time on it, I might put it in a “check this out later” pile.  Understand that I wasn’t seeing HUNDREDS of resumes a day, and I’m guessing that HR and recruiters who see something with too much text will have a different tactic (garbage?).
  • Font. Don’t put anything in font that’s too big, and please don’t get too small.  I’m in my 30s but my eyes aren’t so great, and staring at a monitor all day makes them tired.
  • Folds. I think it’s hilarious to send a resume in an envelope… folded.  Please don’t fold your resume.  If you do, and I like it, I’ll likely have to make a photo copy so I can keep it with all the other resumes I like.
  • Margins. You *can* change the margins in your document, right?  Cool … but *can* doesn’t mean *should* … be careful to not change something that will give me printer problems (like, making the margins too small!).
  • Graphics and photos. Unless you are in design or need to exemplify your creativity, be cautious about using graphics.  I’ve found many people don’t know how to make their graphics small, so a document that could be 100kb becomes 2,000kb, and I don’t like getting 2mb files in my email!  Aside from file size, the graphics could be a distraction, off-brand, or cause funky formatting on my computer (so I don’t see it the way you see it).
  • Proper use of bullets. What icons do you use for the bullets?  Are bullets properly indented, etc?  Bullets are cool to help format your resume, but if you do it wrong it will look like you used a typewriter or very old word processing system.  Yuck.
  • File compatibility. When you mail me a document and I can’t open it, we have a problem.  If you use Word 2007, for example, make sure the document you send me is in the 1997 – 2003 format… make it easy for me to open it with one click!

For some examples in presentation, check out the resume samples page.  What do you think is important in the resume presentation?

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