Resumes -- Presentation

Many employers look for creativity and imagination when the job calls for it. However, it is best to aim for a professional, neat, and organized look.  If you are applying for a job that requires radical creativity, you can always include a portfolio of your wildest, most unbusinesslike work!


First, the resume should have a business-like font. Some good fonts are Times New Roman or Georgia; Arial, Helvetica or Verdana. Use a type size of 12 points. Resist the temptation to shrink the type in order to jam more information onto the page. (You could probably get away with 11 points.)


In addition, your resume needs perfect spelling, punctuation, and grammar.  If some of your lines end with periods and some don't, or if you misspell special computer terms you will hurt your credibility -- especially if you're an English major who claims to have good proofreading skills. (Which is it -- Power Point, PowerPoint, or Powerpoint? Did you design with Dream Weaver, DreamWeaver, or Dreamweaver? If you claim to be familiar with the software, you should definitely get its name right.)


White space is an important part of the appearance. All of the text should be balanced on the paper. The paper shouldn’t look like all the text is crammed on to one side of the sheet; nor should there be huge white open spaces.


You must put your information in a clear, ordered hierarchy.  Note how this document has a large headline, smaller subheadings, and then even smaller labels.

Chronological, reverse chronological, or thematic? It depends on what you want to emphasize.

Chronological: This format probably seems the most natural, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily the best. You start with your earliest experience, and move on to your current ones. It is easy to update (just add the new info at the bottom of the page).   But a chronological hierarchy emphasizes your earliest experiences, and buries your more recent ones.

Note: If you've recently gone from high school to college, don't automatically list your high school achievements first just because they happened first. At the same time, don't bury them if they truly do represent your qualifications for a particular job. 

Reverse Chronological: Start with the most recent experiences, and move back to the earlier ones.  If you have been slowly but steadily gaining more respectable experience, a reverse chronological pattern will emphasize where you are now, rather than how long it has taken to get there.

Thematic or Relevance: If you have little employment experience, but a lot of volunteer, awards and activities, distributing your experience between "Education" "Awards" will dilute their effect, and your "Employment" section will look slim.  You should instead create a section called "Related Experience" and list them all, starting with the most relevant. 

Note: If you have recently had a bad educational or employment experience, a thematic organizational pattern can help you de-emphasize it.  You should be prepared to answer (truthfully) any questions about mysterious gaps, but a little reorganization will ensure that you are judged on your whole record, not just your recent bad experience. 

Scannable Resumes

When sending a resume it is a good idea to send along a scannable copy. Many companies maintain databases of job applicants. Advance computer programs can read the printed resume and fill out a record automatically.  Even if you don't get hired this time around, if a job later comes up that is right for you, the company might call you back.

A scannable resume is very plain -- the computer will only be distracted by fancy details.  The content and phrasing will be very different from the resume you write for human beings to read.  See: Scannable Resumes (UWEC Career Services).

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