How do you write the word "resume"? Since I'm using it on my website, I wanted to know the correct way to write it. Two accents, one accent, or none? Before reading on, let's get one thing clear:
You should not be writing the word "resume" on your actual resume. Please just don't.
Some employers require you to copy and paste your cover letter and resume or curriculum vitae (C.V.) into a text box to go through the company's applicant tracking system. In this case, it should be clear which text box is for the resume and which text box is for the cover letter. When showing up in person to hand off a crisp cover letter and hard-copy resume, the same applies: it should be abundantly clear which is which and you should not be writing "resume" on your resume. However, if you're applying for a job via email and including your resume as an attachment, you might decide to use the word. For example, "As requested, I've attached my resume" or "Please see attached resume." In this case, follow the employer's lead. When the job description asks you to email a résumé (with two accents), then you should write it the same way (with two accents).
Ok, back to the question...
Here's what my initial dictionary search found:
According to The Canadian Oxford Dictionary, it's résumé.
According to the dictionary by Merriam-Webster, it's résumé.
According to Collins English Dictionary, it's résumé.
According to dictionary.com, it's résumé.
So far, it seems that résumé - with two accents - is the correct way to write the word. Despite the above consensus among popular dictionaries, there is an extensive debate. Let's explore the many rationales and dilemmas for writing resume with two accents, with one accent, and with no accents.
Rationale - It's originally a French word so the two accents should be acknowledged and preserved.
Rationale - It's the first entry in many popular dictionaries.
Dilemma - The original French word, résumé, means "summary" or "synopsis," it doesn't actually mean "summary of one's education, skills, and qualifications for employment" (as English-speakers have come to define it).
Dilemma - The French pronunciation is raize-you-may. Each accent ensures proper pronunciation in French. English-speakers pronounce it reh-zoom-may. If accents are indicative of pronunciation, then the first accent should be dropped. But why keep both accents from the original French word if English-speakers have changed the pronunciation (and meaning)?
Dilemma - The accents can turn into gibberish when passing through cyberspace (applying for a job online via text box) and your opening line could look like, "As requested, I've attached my cover letter and r?sum?." Yikes. Question marks don't exactly exude confidence. But you probably won't need to use the word when copying and pasting your resume into a text box.
Rationale - It's a word that's now been assimilated into the English language to refer to a summary of one's qualifications for employment; it's an accepted version in many dictionaries.
Rationale - The single accent on the last "e" is a useful way to differentiate the noun (a summary of one's qualifications) from the verb (to continue doing something).
Rationale - This single accent jives with English pronunciation.
Dilemma - Special characters, including accents, can go haywire in cyberspace (applying for a job online via text box): "I've attached my resum?." Again, you probably won't need to use the word when copying and pasting your resume into a text box.
Dilemma - The team over at Pongo Resume says this version is "the mullet of resume spellings (English in the front, French in the back)."
Dilemma - I could not find even one Canadian resume-writing service that uses an accent.
Rationale - It's an accepted version in many dictionaries.
Rationale - It gets through cyberspace without getting botched.
Rationale - Context will always prevent confusion between the noun and verb.
Rationale - Two accents is clearly a French word, one accent is apparently a "mullet," so this is the last resort.
Rationale - It's easier on the eye.
Dilemma - Spelling the noun with no accents could be confused for the verb, "resume," as in, pick up where you left off.
Dilemma - It's not the "proper" way to write it.
As you can see, although my search was pretty productive in finding reasons for and against using each version of the word, it was not productive in settling this question. Ken Dezhnev of Minnesota-based Crystal Resumés is married to the so-called mullet. The team at Massachusetts-based Pongo Resume prefers no accents: "when in doubt leave 'em out." I did not find a single Canadian resume-writing or career service that used any accent at all. Let me know in the comments if you find one!
In the end, I chose no accent because it's acceptable, it's easier on the eye, and it’s guaranteed to go through cyberspace without a problem.
Thankfully, you don't need to write that word on your actual resume. The take-home message is that whichever way you choose to write it, make sure you're consistent throughout your text.
- If you're responding to an ad asking for your résumé, be sure to mirror it in your response, if you decide to use the word: "I've attached my résumé..."
- If you are using accents, send your document as a pdf (not Word), when possible
- If you are copying and pasting into a text box on an employer's website, be sure to omit accents, because résumé converted into plain text shows up as r?sum?
- On paper, feel free to use accents. YAY