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Electronic Resumés

The computer age has vastly altered how employers manage and identify qualified applicants.

Many employers show a clear preference to applicants who complete online applications that are embedded in the employer's home page or for applicants who send their resumés via email to a designated recruiter.

Online applications

Online applications provide the most secure transmission to the employer's candidate database. Like a traditional resumé, online applications must be free of grammatical and spelling errors. To draw attention to your application, special skills and qualities that match the employer's needs must be located in the content of the online application. You can quickly customize your online application by having available a copy of your traditional resumé, your self assessment lists of traits, skills, and achievements, and documentation of occupational research on the employer. On average, your online application should have 20 keywords or phrases that match the employer's needs and preferences.

Scannable resumés

This type of resumé is used when an employer uses technology to scan paper resumés into an electronic database for retention and further screening. Scannable resumés differ from traditional resumés in both content and format because of the limitations of technology in reading and storing a resumés. The hardware and software used in scanning can "read" your resumés when the print is distinct and background color is absent. For these reasons, you must use laser quality print for your scannable resumé and white or near white resumé paper. Blue, gray, or tan paper is not advised. The next step in succeeding with a scanning system is to change the linguistics of your resumé. Scannable resumés are retrieved from an employer's job bank by the use of a search. The search process uses nouns or phrases as keywords for the software to locate in the best resumés stored in the job bank.

  • Use a font in the 10-14 point range. Use common fonts like Helvetica, Times Roman or Palatino.
  • No horizontal or vertical lines.
  • No tables or columns.
  • Avoid boldface, italicizing, script, shadowing, graphics, borders, and underlines.
  • Place the name on the first line after your 1 inch margin and begin the street address on line two.
  • Use tabs or margin controls to establish layout.
  • Use caps to highlight major headings such as OBJECTIVE and use the * to highlight important lines.
  • Develop a keywords section to follow your address.
  • Don't fold or staple
  • Don't use abbreviations or acronyms unless they are highly common in the industry.

Email Resumés

Email resumés are similar to scannable resumés in layout and content, but they have their differences. The most significant difference is that email resumés use the Internet for transmission as opposed to land based mail systems (snail mail). Email resumés are very efficient at avoiding the resumé traps often found with snail mail. An email resumé can be sent to the decision-maker if you know the person's email address thereby avoiding a pre-screener who limits the number of resumés reviewed by the decision maker.

Like scanning systems that read scannable resumés, the Internet has difficulty transmitting many formatting codes, fonts, and graphics. Another limitation is that the receiver may not have compatible software for opening up your email resumé if it is sent as an attachment. These limitations are easily overcome and you can quickly begin sending email resumés to your targeted employers by following these simple pointers:

  • Before typing the content of your email resumé, set the margins in your page format so that there are no more than 70 characters are on one line. This usually results in about a 2 inch right margin.
  • Left justify your text and continue with a 12 point sans serif font like Times Roman or Helvetica.
  • Put your name on the first line and your address on the second and third lines. Phone numbers would be on the fourth line and email address on the fifth line.
  • Use the space bar to create white space between text on a line. DO NOT use tabs to indent information.
  • Always put a line or two after each job description.
  • Make sure that the star * which highlights a line of text is followed by 1–2 spaces before beginning text.
  • Use keywords and nouns in the content of your resumé.
  • Avoid slashes like "design/develop."
  • Don't put parentheses around the area code.
  • Prepare a cover letter for email using similar rules as the email resumé.
  • Save both your cover letter and email resumé as a text only file.