Electronic resumes – dos and don’ts

by Karen Watson on April 9, 2014

There are two most commonly used methods for resume submission: uploading your resume to the employer’s web site or to the resume bank, and e-mailing your resume to the employer. Faxing or mailing your resume is virtually an obsolete practice, because employers are heavily relying on software programs that scan resumes for key words related to the available positions at their organizations. However, printed resumes are necessary for interviews.

Thus, as professionals, we essentially have to have two versions of our resume. While there are numerous resources for composing a more traditionally formatted resume, many professionals are not sure how to create electronic resumes that will get noticed. To help you out, here are some dos and don’ts on

•    DO create a plain text file of your resume. While you want certain items on your resume to stand out, you should still have a plain text file (.txt file) of your resume. Most employers request a plain text file, because they can run the file through computer software that scans your resume for key words related to the available jobs. When creating a text file, makes sure that you take the time to format the resume; check spacing and adjust any lines of text that seem out of place.
•    DO follow instructions of your potential employer. If the employer is asking that you send your resume in the body of the e-mail, do not send them an attachment. Copy and paste the plain text resume you have created into the body of the email; take the time to check for potential formatting changes. Do not try to format the text by making portions of your resume bold, or change the font size or type. While you may have the email editor which allows for this formatting, your potential employer may only accept plain text messages. Stick to the basics for a successful transmission of your resume.
•    DON’T save your resume as a PDF. This file type is typically larger in size, and is not very common for an electronic resume, that your potential employer may completely discard your email.
•    DO test your electronic resume by sending it to a few friends via email. Because they may be using different e-mail providers, or have different software than you, they can let you know how your resume appears to them. This will help you in uncovering and correcting potential formatting problems, to assure that your resume is in great form by the time it reaches potential employers.
•    DON’T make an assumption that including a resume in the body of an email is the only information you should include in your message to your potential employer. Even if the resume is copied into the email, you still need to let your employer know a little bit more about yourself via a cover letter. However, since you will include your address at the top of the email, feel free to start your resume with a career objective instead of including the heading with your name and address.

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Make your resume scannable

by Karen Watson on April 9, 2014

Most job applications are now done electronically, and most employers, no matter the job level, request a resume from the candidates. Have you ever wondered why employers would request resumes from all candidates, when it can be extremely time consuming to review them all? Employers don’t actually review every resume they receive; companies use various software to scan the resumes they receive for key words and content specific to their available positions. Typically, this is the first round of resume review. Your resume has to make it pass the computer-generated scan in order to make it into the hands of the hiring manager.

While your resume may be well-written and well-formatted, it may not be scannable. This may be the reason why you are not receiving calls from potential employers, even if you have great qualifications for the job. To make your resume scannable, follow these tips:
•    Special formatting may cause certain letters in words to touch, and blend into one character. This is especially the case if a word is bolded or italicized. Make sure that you review your resume and revise any parts where letters are joined together, so that the words can be scanned.
•    Font type and font size are very important for both your printed and electronic resume. When the resume is scanned, it is important that the font is recognizable by the software. Stick to the basic fonts, such as Ariel and Times New Roman, and to the basic font size, such as 10 or 12 points.
•    Do not underline words or phrases in your resume. In an electronic format, underlining implies that the text links to another document or a web site. Additionally, do not have any lines in the resume that touch the text, as this will prevent the resume from being scannable.
•    All the text in your resume should read from left to right in order for your resume to be scannable. No special formatting, such as tables, or columns, should be contained within your electronic resume.
•    Do not use special characters that may not be recognized by scanning software. This includes special formatting of bullets, use of ampersands or percent signs, copyright signs, or any other characters that may not be easily recognizable by scanning software. If you are quantifying information on your resume, make sure to spell out the percentage instead of using “%” as you are indicating increase in sales, for example. Whenever possibly, avoid using signs or special characters in your resume.
•    Even if you submit a printed resume, the document may be scanned for key words to match your qualifications with available positions. It is very important that your submission is on plain white paper, in basic font type and size. If you are submitting multiple pages, make sure that all the pages are numbered, with your name in the top left corner. Do not staple multiple pages. If you do so, only the top page will be scanned.
•    The most important element of a scannable resume is the selection of active keywords, or power words. Do your research and make sure that you use the appropriate keywords in your resume that apply toward the position you are seeking. Having appropriate keywords throughout your resume makes it easier for the software to find matches when scanning the document. Helpful tip: review the employer’s job requirements for keywords. What are the required qualifications for the job? Make sure that your resume contains the same terminology as that on the job description, without direct copying of the text, of course. When your resume is scanned, the software will pick up these key words and you can be one step closer to landing your dream job.

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Things You Can Do Instead of Resume Polishing

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