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Letter Design

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Letterheads

It is so easy to create a letterhead all your own and to make it match your resume. Just copy into a new document the name and address you have already created for your resume. It couldn't be simpler! It makes a very sharp impression when your cover letter and resume match in every respect from paper color to font to letterhead.

Paper Colors

Color, like music, creates an atmosphere. Everyone knows that different colors evoke different feelings. Red can make a person feel warm, whereas blue does just the opposite.

Of course, you wouldn't want to use red in a resume! . . . although an artist could get away with just about any color. As a general rule, resume papers should be neutral or light in color. After 20 years in the resume business, I have discovered that brilliant white linen paper is still the most popular, followed closely by a slightly off-white and then by shades of light gray.

Just make sure that the color of the paper you choose is representative of your personality and industry and that it doesn't detract from your message. For instance, a dark paper color makes your resume hard to read.

In a scannable resume, never use papers with a background (pictures, marble shades, or speckles). A scanner tries to interpret the patterns and dots as letters. This is a good rule to follow even for paper resumes that will never be scanned. Often companies will photocopy resumes for hiring managers, and dark colors or patterns will simply turn into dark masses that make your resume difficult to read. If a company has multiple locations, the original resume may even get faxed from one site to another and the same thing happens.

The type of paper (bond, linen, laid, cover stock, or coated) isn't as important, although it also projects an image. Uncoated paper (bond, linen, laid) makes a classic statement. It feels rich and makes people think of corporate stationery and important documents. Coated stock recalls memories of magazines, brochures, and annual reports. Heavy cover stock and laid paper can't be successfully folded and don't hold the ink from a laser printer or copier very well, so they must be handled gently. All of these factors play a part in your paper choice.

Regardless of the paper you choose, mail your resume flat instead of folded. It costs a few extra cents in postage and a little more for the 9 12 envelope, but the impression it makes is well worth the extra cost. It also helps with the scannability of your resume. Thank you letters and other follow-up letters can be folded in standard No. 10 business envelopes.

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From Designing the Perfect Resume, by Pat Criscito.
Copyright 2000.  Reprinted by arrangement with Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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