Work: How to Write an Electronic Résumé

Problem

These days, rather than mailing résumés, most people use the computer and the internet for résumé writing and distribution. Many employers prefer receiving electronic résumés, because rather than reading every résumé, they are able to use time-saving methods like keyword searches to weed out inappropriate applicants. When you prepare a resume for electronic distribution, should it be different than a traditional résumé?

Decision

  • Make sure the text of your résumé contains at least 8 to 10 keywords related to the positions you are applying for. Put the keywords that would be most important for the employer in job titles, as well as in the Highlights, Experience and Education sections. You may find these words in the text of the ad to which you are responding, in similar ads you find at job banks, or you can get them from the Canadian National Occupational Classification.
  • Sometimes, right at the beginning of the electronic résumé, people place a special section: Keywords Summary – where you actually list the keywords you think they will be looking for. This section may help the employer select your résumé over hundreds of others.
  • It will be easier to read your résumé on screen if you use fonts of "sans serif" family, like Arial or Verdana, which are both widely used on the Internet. Avoid symbols, badges and columns. The best font size is 12 point. Never use less than 10.

There are two main methods of mailing an e-mail résumé:

  • "Copy-Paste" – where you place your résumé into the body of the e-mail.
  • Adding the résumé to the e-mail as Attachment.

Many employers and search firms prefer the “copy-paste” method because attachments can too easily contain viruses. But “copy-paste” has special challenges. Sentence and paragraph breaks can disappear, running words and lines together and your carefully constructed résumé can come out looking like a broken jigsaw puzzle. To make sure your résumé keeps its shape when you send it electronically, it is necessary to create an ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) version and to save it as a text file following these rules:

  • Replace bold fonts with capital letters. Do not use italics, underlines or special fonts. Use the spacebar key rather than the tab key to create indents and new paragraphs.
  • Use dashes in place of bullets and keep line length to 60-65 characters (letters and spaces).
  • Save the résumé as a Text Only document. In the “Save As” dialog box choose the extension .txt (text) or .rtf (Rich Text Format).
  • A resume made this way will keep its shape much better during electronic distribution.
    A well-formatted résumé has a much better chance of being read through. Proper use, presentation and presence of keywords will draw the attention of the employer. You can give yourself further exposure by posting a résumé like this on internet résumé-banks.

The additional information

Literature: Mark Swartz Get Wired, You're Hired, chapter "Resume in Cyberspace"; Pat Criscito, Susan Whitcomb and Pat Kendall, E-Resumes, chapter "Learn about Six Types of e-Resumes".
The Internet: www.careerperfect.com/CareerPerfect/resumes.htm
Tips: Having prepared your résumé for electronic distribution, check its suitability by sending it to yourself or to your friends and seeing how it looks to the person receiving it.

CNM