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  1. Blog
  2. Applying

Do You Need Special Resume Paper?

And if so, what scent?

Resume paper
Photo courtesy of Andrej Lisakov

Let’s have a chat about a historically contentious debate. It’s not about the chicken or the egg (who can say) or if tomatoes really are a fruit (they are). It’s about the most controversial of all: Do you need special paper for your resume? 

It’s 2020. We’re past that, right?

Why would you ever need special resume paper?

Let’s set the scene: It’s 30 years ago and you’re setting off to apply for a bunch of different jobs. What do you do? You print out your resume on the highest-quality paper available so you’ll stand out when you send your resume in the mail, or perhaps even drop it off in person. Premium paper could help you get noticed, right? Even in 1990, that’s a big maybe.

But in 2020, I don’t know anyone who still prints out their resume and mails it to hiring managers. We’ve moved almost exclusively to applying to jobs online.

Read more: How Long Should Your Resume Be? 8 Resume Myths, Busted

So, why are we even talking about resume paper if everything is done online?

There are two specific instances where you need to print your resume.

Number one: career fairs. Always bring several hard copies of your resume to hand out to recruiters. You want to make a good first impression when you’re meeting potential employers, and part of that is being prepared.

And number two: in-person interviews. If you land an in-person interview, you’ll want to bring a few hard copies of your resume to hand to your interviewers for them to reference. you need special resume paper?

The answer is no, you don’t need to print your resume on special paper. As long as it’s clear and easy to read, any white paper will do.

“I’m a firm believer, vouching with actual experience myself, that content reigns over formatting, or even paper quality,” certified professional resume writer Matthew Warzel says. “These days, we all scroll through resumes online. No one prints them and mails them much anymore. This trend is essentially pre-internet; no one wants that pink perfumey resume like in Legally Blonde, although it may be memorable.”

Focus on writing a resume that demonstrates your qualifications for the job, dazzling the hiring manager with your knowledge and experience—not making a flashy-looking resume. If you still want to impress, use a cool (and easy to read) layout for your resume that’ll look good no matter what type of paper you use.

Read more: How to Write a Great Resume, Section by Section

But if you’re dying to use special paper

If you would like to “step it up” a notch, simply choosing a white paper in a heavier weight paper—you’ll see this marked as 32 lb. or higher—will do. 

Now, if only figuring out if the chicken or the egg came first were also this easy…

Read more: The 12 Questions You Should Be Asking Recruiters

About our source

Matthew Warzel is a president of resume writing firm MJW Careers and has 15+ years of recruitment, outplacement, career coaching, and resume writing experience. He is also a certified professional resume writer (CPRW) and certified internet recruiter (CIR) with a bachelor of science in business administration (marketing focus) from John Carroll University. He has been featured on websites including The Ladders, AARP, Monster, Money, Yahoo Finance, Upjourney, Medium, Patch, HigherEdJobs, Tribune Content, The Network Journal, Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, College Recruiter, Talent Egg, and Deseret News National, among others.

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