“Packaging†for Resumes and Cover Letters

Mike writes:
I would appreciate your help with a couple of questions. Is gray granite paper
acceptable for a resume and cover letter? As well is it necessary to send the
resume in a large envelope so the resume doesn’t need to be folded? I have heard
conflicting opinions on whether or not to print a cover letter on personal letterhead.
What is your professional opinion on this?

The Career Doctor responds:
Resumes are one of the fundamental tools of job-hunting and while most of your time
and effort should be focused on the content it’s also important to discuss format issues.
Remember that the entire goal of a resume is to generate enough interest from the
employer to grant you a job interview.
But before I get to the format issues let’s just hit the highlights of resume content.

  • Resumes should be specifically focused to the job you are seeking; there is
    no such thing as a “general purpose” resume.
  • Resumes need to focus on your key accomplishments not on duties and
    responsibilities; employers want to see that you can produce results.
  • Resumes must have zero errors; one typo or misspelling can easily be the difference between getting an interview and having the resume tossed in the trash.
  • Resumes are statements of fact; do not lie or stretch the truth when writing your resume.

Back to your question about resume format. The vast majority of resumes today are submitted electronically but a “print” resume can still be useful for networking and taking to an interview. A few employers still want print resumes submitted via postal mail. It’s also not a bad idea to mail your resume even when you’re also submitting it electronically — to help you stand out. Here are some general guidelines for print resumes:

  • Paper: plain white is perfectly acceptable. If you want to go with a color choose
    muted colors such as gray ivory beige slate etc.
  • Printing: ideal is still a laser printer but ink jets are fine — as long as you let the
    ink dry so that the ink does not smear.
  • Mailing: sending your resume in a standard-size business envelope is fine though
    ob-seekers sometimes use larger envelopes so that the resume does not
    need to be folded.
  • Style: your resume and cover letter should match — in letterhead in type style (font)
    and in paper color. And never ever send a cover letter on company letterhead.

One final comment about resumes: Whenever possible it’s always best to see if the employer
has a preferred resume style. Some elements of resume design are very subjective. Many
employers now list these requirements on the corporate career Websites. I have a client who
has an amazing functional resume (organized around skills clusters) but a recent prospective
employer asked her to totally rewrite and reformat her resume into a standard chronological resume because that format was preferred.
Looking for more resume help? Quintessential Careers has
resume quizzes
and an article on creating
Web-ready resumes. Go to: Quintessential Careers.

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