Is resume paper important, considering the digital age of job applications? Yes! Yes, it is!

You've been applying to jobs non-stop for a while now and have been invited to attend a career fair or job interview. That means you'll need a printed copy of your resume. If printing out your resume has never occurred to you, now is the time. You definitely don't want to print it out on regular old printer paper. That will do nothing to help you stand out from the crowd. Using plain paper also bears witness to the idea that you don't pay attention to details. 

Those negative connotations are easily avoided by choosing the right resume paper. 

  • How do you choose the best resume paper? 

  • Is color, texture, and weight important?

  • Should you use cardstock to print your resume? Spoiler alert: No.

  • Where do you buy resume paper?

  • Is the brand of resume paper important?

There's a maze of options that needs to be explored, especially since handing over your printed resume to a recruiter or hiring manager is a moment that demands attention so you can leave the best first impression. 

What is resume paper?

Aside from the glaringly obvious answer of '"t's paper that you print your resume on," resume paper is a subtle part of the job application process that backs up the praises contained in your professional narrative. 

Picture this: You walk into an interview room and see that the hiring manager has a copy of your resume printed out on plain white paper. Then, you hand them a copy of your resume on resume paper. Their eyes light up, because you've just signaled that your professionalism extends beyond what is written on that piece of paper. 

This specialized type of paper is designed specifically for printing resumes and goes beyond mere utility. When you use resume paper, you provide the hiring manager with a visual and tactile sense of your professionalism because this type of paper is thicker, has different colors, and feels different – softer – than standard paper. The texture and color elevate the reading experience and provide a tangible quality that engages more of the hiring manager's senses. 

How do you know if the resume paper you're buying is good?

So far, you've learned that having your resume printed on resume paper will make you appear more professional. Now, let's talk about what to look for in the resume paper you choose. There are several key attributes to consider:

  • Weight

  • Brightness

  • Color

  • Texture

  • Material

The good news is that all of the information about the paper you choose will be printed right on the box of paper. 

Resume paper weight

The weight of resume paper is measured in pounds (lbs) per square meter and is heavier than regular printing paper. The weight typically ranges from 24 lbs to 32 lbs and helps your printed resume to have a sense of substance. It also makes your resume more durable. 

  • Choose 24 lbs if you're trying to make a cost-effective decision that still conveys professionalism.

  • When you're applying for an upper-level or executive position, the decision to buy 32 lbs will probably be more appealing as it's a more luxurious paper that provides greater formality. Basically, the heavier weight makes a bolder statement.

Fortunately, no matter which weight you choose, it'll be something even the most common printers can handle. 

Brightness and color

The two most popular color choices are white and ivory. Many people feel like those are boring, but just like using the regular old reverse-chronological format for your resume, it's what hiring managers expect. 

Both white and ivory exude a clean and professional feel; the best part is that the neutrality of these two colors falls into the it's-a-safe-bet category. Of course, resume paper comes in different colors, like gray or beige, if you want a contemporary touch. However, those colors should be leveraged only when you're applying for a creative role or are in an industry that values modern or unconventional approaches – think graphic design, marketing, or creative writing.

In fact, your color decision should be based on the type of role you seek. For example,

  • White and ivory are perfect for most professional settings and traditional industries like finance, law, healthcare, and administrative positions

  • Blues and darker grays can be used when you apply for roles where confidence and boldness are critical, like sales and project management

  • Pastels should really be avoided unless you have a rapport with the company you're interviewing with and want to have fun

In addition to the decision you make about the color of your resume paper, you have to consider the brightness. Resume paper brightness is measured from 1 to 100 – the higher the number, the brighter the paper. Consider the design of your resume.

  • Do you have any contrasting text on your resume?

  • Have you built header sections that are highlighted with a dark color?

  • Are you using colored text for things like company names or position titles?

All of these factors will be affected by the brightness of your paper. The brightness of your resume paper can enhance the contrasting text and shaded sections, or it can mute those design elements. 

The texture of your resume paper

When we talk about adding a tactile response to your job application, we're referring to the texture of your resume paper – and there are quite a few to choose from, including:

  • Smooth

  • Linen

  • Cotton

  • Parchment

  • Felt

Smooth and linen finishes are great for formal and traditional industries that embrace conservative approaches. Cotton is often chosen by executives, because it has a more luxurious feel, and parchment is suitable for creative fields that value uniqueness. When you want to venture into a job interview or attend a career fair and leave a lasting impression of warmth with a hint of flair, then you should opt for a felt finish on your resume. It should be noted that felt texture is probably not going to go through your printer very well.

At the end of the day, the texture of your resume paper should be something that is distinctly you. There should be a hole in the box where you can feel the paper before you buy it. 

  • Does it give you the heebie-jeebies when you touch it? 

  • Is the texture memorable? That is, after all, what you're going for when you apply for a new job.

  • Does the texture align with the expectations of your industry?

It may seem weird to associate emotion with paper, but since your resume is an extension of you, the choice should resonate with your professional identity.

Texture comes from the material of your resume paper

Unlike regular printer paper that's made from wood pulp, resume paper can be made from a variety of materials, like:

  • Cotton or a cotton blend

  • Linen blend

  • Recycled paper

  • Premium bond paper

Well, what's the difference?

Most of the difference has to do with durability and texture. For example, the cotton, cotton blend, and linen varieties are durable and offer a premium presentation, while premium bond paper is known for having a high-quality finish and offers a more polished presentation. Pick the material of your resume paper based on the type of first impression you want to make. 

How do you choose the right resume paper? 

While a lot of what goes into picking your resume paper will depend on your personal preferences, you have to consider things like industry norms and how the paper will mesh with the design elements of the text that will be printed on the page. 

Oftentimes, you'll see advice that indicates 32 lb linen is the best resume paper. However, if you're applying for a role or are in an industry where distractions should be minimized, you would opt for 32 lb white cotton resume paper. 

Don't worry if you're on a budget, though. You can wow a hiring manager with 24 lb cotton paper that falls on the cheaper side of the resume paper spectrum. The main idea is that you choose something that isn't plain white printer paper. 

Expert tip: If you're on a budget, you can sometimes get free resume paper at your local library or the career services office at college (if you're a student). 

Resume paper frequently asked questions

Great, so you have to buy resume paper to match your personality, the design of your resume, and the norms of your industry. What else should you know about resume paper? Let's address some FAQs:

Where can I buy resume paper?

You can buy resume paper pretty much anywhere, including big box retailers like Target and Walmart, office supply stores like Office Depot, and even Amazon. Feel free to comparison shop, too, to find the best price, because Amazon's resume paper is no different than the resume paper at Office Depot.

What are the best resume paper brands?

There are basically four major brands of resume paper – Southworth, Neenah, Wausau, and Hammermill. Southworth stands out as the industry standard for high-quality resume paper, while Hammermill comes in as a more affordable option.

Should I print my resume double-sided?

This is a common question for people who want to save money, but it's just not a good idea. Printing your resume on the front and back of the paper compromises the readability and minimizes the professional appearance. It's best to print your resume on two separate pages. 

Should I staple the pages of my resume together?

Stapling your resume is another thing to avoid, because the hiring manager is going to pull it apart anyway. Most of them want to be able to put your pages next to each other as a way to be able to quickly reference the content when they're asking you interview questions

Should I print my resume on cardstock?

The answer to this question was spoiled at the beginning of the article. The first thing to consider is that cardstock will probably not feed through your printer very well. Additionally, because of how thick it is, a hiring manager or recruiter may not be able to stack it well with the other resumes they have to go through, leading them to be frustrated – not an impression you want to leave. Also, cardstock is more expensive than resume paper. 

Does all resume paper have a watermark?

Generally, only the premium resume paper options have a subtle watermark. It's a way for the manufacturer to display the authenticity of the paper. Most resume papers do not have watermarks. Either way, it should say right on the box whether there's a watermark or not. 

Will resume paper feed through my printer?

The short answer is, "Yes." Of course, you'll want to check the specifications of your printer, but resume paper is designed to be printer-friendly. You'll probably even see that it'll say “printer-friendly” on the package of resume paper. 

Why does all of this matter?

Is it really worth the effort to pay more than double for a small box of printer paper than you would if you were buying a 500-page ream of printer paper? 

When you consider that everything you put into a job search is an investment in your future, the decision is clear – you should spend the extra money on resume paper, because you never get a second chance to make an outstanding first impression. 

It's obvious that there will be times when you must have a printed version of your resume. Using the right resume paper is the best way to make a tangible and positive impression. Not only does the right resume paper signal that you're keen on details, but it's a subtle way to build a personal brand that showcases your value to hiring managers. 

Before you print your resume, we'll check to make sure that it has the right keywords and layout to impress hiring managers – and we'll check it for free. Upload it here.

Recommended reading:

Related Articles: