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Searching for a new job, or even for your first job? Introduce yourself to potential employers with a professional-looking resume that highlights your skills and abilities. While you could pay someone to create a resume for you, a word processing program like Microsoft Word makes it easy to do it yourself. Most public libraries and school-based career advisory centers offer free resume printing.
Word Processing Software
Microsoft Word is generally considered the industry standard for word processing software. If you're a Mac user, the equivalent program is called Pages. Both programs have similar features. If you create a resume with Pages, you have an option to save it as a Word document. This is recommended if you're going to email your resume.
Using Microsoft Word
If you're proficient with MS Word, you might want to format your resume yourself. You'll need to know how to create margins, select fonts and align text. Look online for examples of formats that are pleasing to you. However you choose to format your resume, include sections that contain your contact information, job objective, highlights of qualifications – sometimes called summary of qualifications or executive summary, experience and education.
Templates Make It Easy
You may want to use one of Microsoft's ready-made printable resume templates. When you open Word and select New, you'll see a variety of templates that make it easy to create almost any kind of document. Select Blank Document if you want to do all of your own formatting. Otherwise, choose one of the resume templates with preselected fonts, alignments, headings and text boxes.
There are also templates for cover letters. You'll need a cover letter if you're mailing your resume. If you're delivering the resume in person, such as at a job fair, a cover letter is not required.
Keep It Simple
Though MS Word offers a number of eye-catching resume templates, hiring managers generally prefer resumes that are clean and simple. Use a standard font such as Times New Roman or Arial. Underlining can make text hard to read. Limit your use of bold, italics and different-sized fonts.
Color, graphics and unusual fonts can be distracting. Plus, if you use free printing services at a library, school or career center, color printing might not be an option. There's nothing wrong with the Basic Resume template; let your skills and qualifications speak for themselves on your resume instead of resorting to attention-getting gimmicks.
Resumes should be printed on standard 8-1/2 by 11 paper. Standard white copy paper is fine. If you want to use your own resume paper, choose standard business paper packaged and sold as anything between 20-lb. weight to 32-lb. weight. The labeling refers to the weight of 500 sheets of uncut paper. Regular copy paper is usually 20-lb weight. Heavier resume paper is thicker and may have some cotton or linen content. These have a more luscious feel than standard copy paper and, while they are a nice touch, they are not essential to an effective resume.
Your library may have limited printing services. If you're printing a large quantity, you may be asked to provide your own resume paper. Ask a librarian about guidelines for resume printing at your local public library. If the service is unavailable, you can have your resume printed at relatively low cost at a commercial copy center.
Remember that the goal of a resume is to get you a job interview. Few people are hired on the strength of their resume alone. Use your resume to attract the attention of potential employers by highlighting the skills, education and experience that best qualify you for the job. When you're called in for an interview, your resume can serve as an outline as you talk about your qualifications in greater detail.
- Tricia Goss