Should you spell “resume” with accents?
When you start looking for a job, here’s a basic question to ponder: Should I spell resumes with or without accents?
Should you spell resumes with or without accents? Should it be “resume”, “resume” or “resume”?
First things first: what does the word mean?
Professor Paul Brians of Washington State University maintains a great writing website. He points out that “résumé” is a French word that means “summary”. Your resume, after all, is a summary. It lists your work history, your qualifications, and your skills, among other things. That document usually serves as the first impression you make on a prospective employer.
But how should the word be written if it arises?
Purists will no doubt discuss two salient points.
The first would be that spelling it without accents makes it seem like a different word, summarizes, which means “continue.”
That is a valid point up to a point.
The second, and most likely argument, is that since it is a French word that has two accents, our use must also include both accents.
However, there are many words that the English language “borrows” from other languages. As a general rule, accents accompany words when they are brought into English.
We still use an accent on the cliche, as Brians points out.
But more and more often, we emphasize the word “coffee”. (Of course, it used to always be written as coffee.)
Career expert Emilia Mucha, from the Zety.com website, notes that the French do not use the term for the document in question. Instead, she says, they use CVs or resumes.
I’ve seen a lot of people use that term over the years when they want to look stylish. I figure that for most prospective employers who aren’t looking to hire someone bilingual, it’s probably not that impressive.
Merriam-Webster says two of the options are more common: resume and summary. The third option, the curriculum vitae, is listed as less common.
The Associated Press style book says the resume is fine. But then AP avoids accent marks in large part because different computer systems that work with AP fonts are sometimes confused with punctuation marks.
In a discussion on LiveCareer.com, Angela Copeland notes that you will most commonly use the word when naming the actual file on your resume. It will save it and then upload or email it. In that case, it will give your resume a name, since computers don’t like diacritical marks in file names.
So what is more correct? Which is better?
If you use the AP style, the resume is better because AP says so. A survey of dictionaries seems to suggest that it is better to use two accents or none.
Summarized may seem more “foreign” because it forces the last vowel to be pronounced in a way that the verb resume would not be. But as a third option, it is less common.
If you want to use the resume, do it. If you are applying for a job, particularly one where knowledge of a foreign language may be part of your duties, it cannot hurt.
I can tell you that having hired some writers myself over the years on the actual job, I have never once dismissed anyone for spelling the word without accents. (My actual work is based on the AP style, I write it down for the record.) I don’t think it is wrong to drop the accents as the word has become more and more “Americanized” over the years.
If you worry, though, take this hint. Look at the employer’s website: if you ask for a cover letter and a resume, write the resume with the accents intact. If they don’t, you must assume it’s safe not to.