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Writing an Internet Resume That Travels Well On the ‘Information Highway’

By Joe Hodowanes

A big question for many job seekers focuses on: How do you craft a state-of-the-art electronic document that will not only survive e-mail and resume scanners but also impress hiring managers with its professional presentation?

Unfortunately, a large number of job seekers are taking to the Internet with a resume that is not compatible for Internet transmission. Don’t be one of them.

To find out how your current resume stacks up, read the clear, specific – and important – suggestions listed below for creating a resume that will travel well on the “Information Highway.”

  • First, use more than one page if necessary. Don’t buy into the myth that an electronic version of your resume cannot exceed one page in length. In reality, if your resume is scanned into a computer database and searched for “keywords,” a one-page document could end up hurting your chances. Why? Your resume may not contain enough keywords to be selected by the computer.

    The computer can easily handle multiple-page resumes, and it uses all of the information it extracts from your resume to determine whether your skills match available positions. A two-page resume will allow you to provide more information.

    As an additional hint, paste your resume after your cover letter so you can send in one document, instead of two separate ones. That makes it more convenient for the recipient and ensures that both your cover letter and your resume are saved.

  • The paper resume is not dead! Despite all the claims about electronic resumes replacing hard copy, the reality is that most organizations and search firms are “halfway houses.” They haven’t gone all electronic, and they haven’t yet dispensed with hard copies.

    My advice is to do exactly as you would have done with a fax communication (remember them?) – send a confirmation copy by mail. It may not be fashionable, but it works. And we’re talking about your career prospects. That should be worth the price of a stamp. Mailing a copy also solves all your anxieties about the presentation standards of your documents with no real downside.

  • Everyone knows that the key to creating an effective resume is selling the product called “you.” Knowing it, however, and doing it are often two different things. For most of us, resumes present a bit of a paradox. We know the resume is one of the most fundamental elements of any job search campaign, and anything that fundamental should be a “no brainer.” Yet, you’ll find that a solid resume is one of the most challenging documents to write.

    We recognize and address this dilemma by providing our Web site readers with a free analysis of their resumes. If you would like to take advantage of this resource, feel free to e-mail jmwanes@jmwanes.com or send us a fax at (813) 936-0201. We’ll get back to you with an evaluation of your document in the order that we receive it.

  • Use ASCII format. ASCII is the lowest common denominator for electronic text. Every Web browser or e-mail program can read it. In other words, you must eliminate any word processing formats or stylistic embellishments that could prevent you from communicating your resume successfully.

    To create an ASCII resume, save it as a text file in a word-processing program. Cut and paste it into the body of an e-mail when you apply for a job. Otherwise, you risk having your resume come out jumbled and unreadable.

  • Never submit a resume to a major job board as an attachment. Although it may seem easiest to attach your resume, doing so is like leaving a stack of money on a train: you’ll never see it – or hear about it – again. Most hiring managers don’t read attached mail because they don’t want to risk the chance of their computer being infected with a virus. It’s a risk they don’t want to take – so attaching a resume is a risk you don’t want to take.

  • Showcase your strong points first. Newspaper articles include the most important information at the front of the article. The best parts of your resume should be up front as well. Don’t make the hiring manager scroll down through loads of information before getting to the good stuff.

    Another comment: E-mails sometimes are treated like voicemails; i.e., once they “drop off the screen” into a database, you’re totally reliant on the electronic search expertise of the researcher. And “out of sight” electronically is really “out of mind.”

  • Use Adobe Portable Document Format (.pdf). The most elegant solution to e-mailing a formatted resume is to create a PDF file. This not only creates a small file (smaller than zip, typically), it also preserves every bit of formatting.

    Virtually everyone has access to the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, which will automatically open the file when someone double-clicks on the file name. How do you make a PDF file? You can buy the Adobe Acrobat software (approximately $200) or use a friend’s copy.

  • Protect your document. Keep your Word resume and cover letter from being altered by making it a read-only document. To do this, open your document, click “Save As” on the File menu, click “General Options” on the Tools menu in the Save As dialog box, select the read-only recommended check box, click OK and finally save.

  • Purge your resume of all mathematical and business symbols. A majority of e-mail systems are designed to read only the characters that appear on a standard computer keyboard. That means you must remove symbols, including ©, ® or ™.

    Additionally, limit each line in your resume to 72 characters. Most e-mail programs wrap text around at 72 characters. That means any line longer than 72 characters will be cut off and dropped down to the next line, jumbling your resume. Avoiding that 73rd character will help format the document so it stays organized and easy to read.

  • Stick to commonly used fonts. Keep your font size at 10 or 11 points, and if responding to an ad or job posting, type the job title and/or noted reference number in the “subject” of your message. Also, the final resume copy ideally should be printed at 600 dpi (dots per inch).

  • Use terms and acronyms specific to your industry, for example, BASIC, ODBC and Visual C++ instead of a general term such as “programming languages,” or JIT and TQM instead of “manufacturing methods.” Avoid abbreviations of subjects and organizations that the computer software may not recognize, for example, SHRM for Society for Human Resource Management.

  • Most computer searches go after impersonal nouns. These nouns answer the question of whether you can do the job; however, some employers may ask the computer to search for adjectives or even verbs and nouns. Here are a few keywords for interpersonal traits that will describe the kind of person you are: ability to delegate, ability to plan, assertive, accurate, adaptable, competitive, conceptual ability, creative, flexible, open-minded, problem solving, team-building and tenacious, just to list a few.

Finally, before e-mailing your resume to employers, e-mail a copy to yourself for review.

The world of the Internet will coexist with the more traditional job-hunting techniques of paper resumes and human networking contacts forever. Therefore, you should think about having two resumes, one for human eyes (a good looking “ABR” paper resume) and one for computer eyes (an electronic resume). Regardless of which type of resume you’re creating, your ultimate goal is to get a human being to read your resume, so don’t neglect the quality of your writing – but that’s a whole new story.

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Guest columnist Joe Hodowanes MPA, SPHR is Career Strategy Advisor and President of J.M. Wanes & Associates, Tampa, FL 33688. www.jmwanes.com - Email: jmwanes@jmwanes.com.

This article is reprinted with permission.

    Tuesday, February 06, 2007 © CPAmerica International    

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