A growing number of companies rely on electronic resumes (PDF) (Word). However, not all electronic resumes are alike. For example, you might submit a paper copy of your resume to a company that scans resumes. In this case, only the resume format is electronic. In a second possibility, you might post a resume to an Internet "resume bank." In a third, you might send your resume through e-mail. In these last two, both the format and the submission are electronic.
If you have developed a resume that is specific to your occupation, it will not be difficult to change your formatting to an electronic resume. Keep a copy of your resume in both formats. It is best not to use an electronic resume style if you know that an individual, and not a machine, will review your resume. The use of jargon and the bland layout would put you at a disadvantage.
Scanning and Databases:
Before you apply to a company, ask the company if they use electronic databases or scanning techniques for selecting applicants. If they do, use electronic resume formatting. This special format ensures that your resume scans well. Once your resume is scanned, employers transfer the words into a searchable database. Employers might start by searching the database for names, addresses, phone numbers, education, job titles, and employers. Then they search for specialized data such as computer languages, varieties of consumer goods, countries, foreign languages, colleges, and employment dates. For example, an employer may request a selection of applicants who speak Spanish, have experience selling dimension lumber, and have obtained a Master of Business Administration degree from an Ivy League school.
When formatting this type of resume it is critical to use nouns, such as software names or position titles, rather than verbs. An example is shown in the Summary section of the "Sample Resume." It is an important section because it includes keywords for a scanner.
Career offices of colleges and universities and private employment agencies often manage electronic databases. Check with each office to learn their specific requirements before submitting a resume
Internet Resume Bank:
Posting your resume onto a resume website requires the electronic resume formatting. There are a number of "resume banks" on the Internet that will store your electronic resume for free. Employers pay a fee to search these banks for resumes of candidates who might fit their needs.
Internet resume sites usually explain how they want you to prepare your resume before you add it to their site. Save your resume as a "text only with line breaks" file. If the resume site asks for hard returns in your resume, then save your resume as a "text only" file. A pop-up window box may suggest that you are about to lose your formatting. Save an original version with formatting. Save another copy as your electronic resume, with no formatting.
On some Internet sites you can cut and paste your entire resume. Others require you to cut and paste sections into a fill-in-the-blank format. Read each site's specific instructions before you post your resume to ensure your resume doesn't get overlooked.
Once you post your resume on a resume bank, your resume is public information. Check Internet sites to see if you can choose which employers your resume goes out to. This may prevent your resume from landing on your current employer's desk. Also, think about your privacy. You could rent a post office (PO) box and voice-mailbox for your job search. These allow you to screen employers, as well as not miss calls because an employer can't find your telephone number.
E-mail Your Resume:
Some employers request that applicants send plain text documents in the body of an e-mail. These resumes require electronic formatting. Moving your resume from a word processor to e-mail can cause a lot of garbage to appear. Test your resume to see how it will show up on the employer's computer. To test how your resume looks on someone else's e-mail system, paste a copy of the file into a text editor. A common text editor on a Macintosh is SimpleText. This is usually found in the Applications folder within the Hard Drive. If you use Windows, Notepad is available by opening Programs, and then Accessories.
Once your resume is pasted on the text editor, look through it to see if any odd symbols or spacing has occurred. The text editor allows you to clean up any garbage that may be carried over from a word processor's formatting. Make any corrections and then cut and paste the resume into your e-mail. Send a copy to yourself and also to a friend who has a different e-mail system. This checking will ensure that you send a quality resume to the employer.
All resumes are sent with an introduction or cover letter. Use a line of asterisks to separate your letter from the resume. When you e-mail your application package, follow it up with paper copies. Sending your resume in its original format allows you a chance to catch the employer's attention
Tips for this resume. Use the following tips to enhance your resume:
*Use 10- to 14-point font size. Smaller type can confuse a scanner.
*Use basic fonts such as Courier, Helvetica, or Arial.
*Columns and tabs do not work well in electronic resumes.
*Do not use boldface, shading, italics, underlining, or graphics.
*Clear copies scan best. Send only originals, not copies or faxes. Use a laser or ink-jet printer, not a dot-matrix printer. Make sure the ink doesn't smudge.
*Use standard 8 1/2 x 11-inch light-colored paper. Do not fold or staple.
*Words that fall into a crease cannot be easily scanned.
*Limit page length to 1-2 pages. Print on one side of the paper.
*Avoid parentheses, brackets, or bullets. Asterisks and plus signs work well.
*Technical or industry jargon is good to use in this type of resume. Avoid using uncommon abbreviations.
Place your name on one line and your address on a separate line. This allows the scanner to retrieve your name cleanly. It is important not to center your contact information, because centering does not transfer well over e-mail.
Reprinted from eCIS, 12-200
You can also create an attractive, professional online resume at: www.visualcv.com