You've probably noticed that resume is sometimes spelled with no accents, sometimes with one, and often with two. Since this blog resides on a web site called Pongo Resume – no accents – you may have astutely gathered that the no-accent option is perfectly acceptable. It is (of course). But is it the, ahem, "proper" way?
Not according to the Professional Association of Résumé Writers (PARW), or anyone who speaks French.
Résumé is originally a French word, meaning summary or outline. In French, it's pronounced raise-you-may (as in the raise you may get if you write a great resume and get a new job). [Insert shame-faced emoticon here.]
But the problem with the so-called proper format is it's a major pain in the butt to remember to put the accents in every instance of the word.
Sending the written word through cyberspace sometimes turns special characters (such as an accented é) into gibberish. So despite your perfect formatting, your reader may see something that looks like a cartoon swear word (e.g., My re¿#%sume¿#% is enclosed for your review…).
So what's the best way to punctuate the word resume? Here are some theories:
Resume (no accents) = Perfectly Acceptable (and Recommended)
For most of us, it's safest to use the plain, unaccented word "resume." It's become the standard, at least in the U.S.A.
Résumé (2 accents) = Proper, but Problematic
You might want to use the double-accented résumé if you're a traditionalist, a stickler for propriety, or you live in a place where a lot of people speak French (e.g., Canada, Europe). Bear in mind that accents look good on paper, but onscreen, they tend to make things harder to read.
Resumé (1 accent) = Wrong
The paperback Webster's Dictionary in my desk drawer says this is OK, but I disagree. I think it's the worst of both worlds; the mullet of resume spellings (English in the front, French in the back).
Bottom line, when in doubt, leave 'em out. But also play it by ear. For example, if you're applying to a job ad that says "send us your résumé," then you should follow their lead and use the accents.
Tip: If you do decide to use the accents, consider sending your documents in PDF rather than Word format. PDFs are guaranteed to appear exactly as they're sent, but require the recipient to have Adobe Reader software. Not a big deal. Most people have it, and it's a quick, free download if they don't.
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