It used to be, back in the day, that the main mode of submitting your resume was the good old postal service. Now, one of the most common ways job seekers are sending their resume is via email and why not, email is quick, convenient, and universal. While this is an immediate way to respond to job postings and get your resume in front of hiring managers, there are a few things to keep in mind before hitting send.
Not all systems and programs are created equal and you never know what will be at the receiving end of your resume. I’m sure you’ve spent a lot of time making your resume look just right and it would be a shame if all that effort went down the drain because your document is not compatible with the system or program the hiring manager is using. They might not be able to open your document, and even if they can, the formatting may be off making it look messy and unprofessional, certainly not what you intended.
To help avoid that scenario make sure you send your document as a Word 97-2003 document. Word 2007 automatically saves your document as a .docx which makes earlier word versions unable to read it. Then there is also the PC versus Mac issue. Mac users will not be able to view a word document and the same for Word users trying to view a Mac document. There are compatibility programs but even then there may be formatting issues.
One option is attaching your resume to an email in a few different formats. Attaching it as a Word document and a PDF helps increase the chances that it will be viewable. Plus, the PDF resume will not be subjected to formatting issues; it should appear exactly as you intended it to. However, I have heard from some hiring managers that they upload resumes into a database and that with PDF resumes they are not able to do that. Sending both formats will give you that extra assurance.
You also have the option of attaching your resume as a text document. To do that, simply go to save as and select plain text. Plain text takes out all the formatting so you will need to go in and do some creative formatting to make it look better. You will not be able to insert bullets or use bold or underline but you can use asterisks for bullets or use repeating ==== to designate different sections on your resume. When using plain text you should make the lines of your resume approximately sixty spaces in length to enhance the overall appearance and reduce the need for your reader to have to scroll over to read it.
A little tip I always tell clients is to copy and paste a text version of their resume directly into the body of an email. This ensures that your resume is viewable if for some reason the recipient cannot open the attachments. Plus, it gets it in front of the reader right away. Let’s be honest, hiring managers are inundated with responses and may not take the time to open every attachment so give yourself an edge by including it in your email.
Also, it should go without saying that you need to use a professional email address, your name or a variation of it is your best bet. Save the cutesy or inappropriate email address for your personal use. It’s not a bad idea to designate an email address strictly for your job search.
If a job listing requests that you send your resume via email make sure to read it carefully for any submission requirements. They might want it in a specific format and that will alleviate any of the previously mentioned issues. When using email to send your resume don’t forget to fill out your subject line. A missing subject could be interpreted as junk or spam and land your resume in the trash.
If you are sending your resume by email to quickly get it in front of a hiring manager you may also want to send a hard copy by regular mail. Simply indicate in your email that you wanted to respond right away to the job opening and will also be following up with a paper version of your resume. This will keep you in the hiring manager’s mind when they receive your paper resume. This isn’t necessary, just another strategy to stand out.
Take advantage of technology and get your resume submitted quickly by using email to give yourself an edge – just keep in mind the above situations to eliminate any issues that may arise.
by Megan Koehler