by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
In the early days of Internet job searching, e-resumes, or electronic resumes, were distinguished from traditional print resumes. Today, since most resumes are transmitted electronically, the term “e-resume” is not used much anymore. Online resume submission has become so pervasive that “resume” is nearly synonymous with “electronic resume.” Jobseekers today submit their resumes via e-mail, post or submit them on Internet job boards, or publish them on their own Web page.
1. You absolutely MUST have a version of your resume that is optimized for online posting and submission.
A jobseeker simply cannot succeed these days with just the traditional formatted resume intended to be printed out as a visually pleasing marketing piece. The formatted “print” resume is still important, but it can no longer be the only resume tool in your kit.
More than 90 percent of employers place resumes directly into searchable databases and an equal percentage of employers prefer to receive resumes by e-mail. More than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies post jobs on their own Web sites — and expect jobseekers to respond electronically. Thus, you need at least one other version of your resume that can go directly into an applicant tracking system (ATS) with no obstacles. Formatting that needs to be removed before the resume can be placed in a database is an example of such an obstacle.
Sending your resume in text-based format directly in the body of an e-mail message removes all barriers to an employer’s placing your resume right into a searchable databases. Some employers still prefer the formatted document version of your resume attached to an e-mail message (so they have the option to print it out, for example), while others won’t open attachments because of concerns about viruses and incompatibilities among word-processing programs.
The formatted “print” resume is still vital because the employer may wish to visually review your resume, especially once the database search has narrowed down the candidates, and the formatted, print version will be more reader-friendly than the text-based version. You’ll also want to have a print version of your resume on hand for networking, to take to interviews and career fairs and for the rare occasions when employers request resumes in old-school ways — by mail or fax.
2. Your resume must be loaded with keywords.
Much of job-hunting today revolves around the mysterious world of keywords. Employers’ dependence on keywords to find the job candidates they want to interview has come about in recent years because of technology. Inundated by resumes from jobseekers, employers have increasingly relied on placing resumes in keyword-searchable databases, and using software to search those databases for specific keywords that relate to job vacancies. Most Fortune 1000 companies, in fact, and many smaller companies now use these technologies. In addition, most employers search the databases of third-party job-posting and resume-posting boards on the Internet.
The bottom line is that if you apply for a job with a company that searches for keywords using an ATS, and your resume doesn’t have the proper keywords the company seeks, you are pretty much out of luck. Read more about how to write a resume and get it past an ATS.
3. Your resume must be accomplishments-driven.
Accomplishments are the points that really help sell you to an employer — much more so than everyday job duties. In fact, there’s a direct relationship between keywords and accomplishments in that keywords can be tied to accomplishments rather than job duties, so a good way to make the leap from keyword to a nice, contextual bullet point is to take each keyword you’ve identified as critical to the job and list an accomplishment that tells how you’ve used the skill represented by that keyword.
4. Creating a resume is easy with a resume builder.
It’s surprisingly easy to create a resume once you get the hang of it. Using LiveCareer’s free resume builder will help you write your resume in a snap.
5. Text resumes are highly versatile.
Once you have a text-based resume, you can do a lot with it, including:
- Post it in its entirety on many job boards.
- Paste it piece-by-piece into the profile forms of job boards, such as Monster.com, that have a rigid setup and don’t allow resumes to be posted as is.
- Paste it into the body of an e-mail and send it to employers.
- Convert it to a Web-based HTML resume.
6. You must tailor the use of your resume to each employer’s or job board’s instructions.
As you might have guessed from what you’ve read so far in this article, there is no universally accepted way to submit your e-resume to an employer. Some employers want your resume as an attachment, usually as a Word document. Others want your resume as text pasted into the body of an e-mail message. Still others want you to paste your resume into an online form. Find out each employer’s preference before applying
Also note that some job boards/employers limit the number of words or the size of the file that you can paste into any one field.
7. Take advantage of job board features to protect yourself and get the most out of posting your e-resume on the boards.
Most reputable job boards have features that enable you to protect your own privacy and confidentiality, control who sees your resume, mask the identity if your current employer (so your employer doesn’t know you’re looking), and easily edit and delete your resume or change it from active to inactive.
Many boards also enable you to create multiple profiles for yourself so you can look for various types of jobs. Some permit you to submit a list of your top skills. Resume submission forms generally have questions in addition to a place to submit the actual resume. Some questions are mandatory; others are optional. When a question is optional, consider whether it is to your advantage to answer it. Answering questions about salary or location requirements, for example, may be too limiting.
8. A few finishing touches can increase your e-resume’s effectiveness.
Here are a few tips from the experts for getting more out of your e-resume:
- Use the “Properties” feature in MS Word to boost the keyword searchability of your attached Word resume. This feature, found under Word’s File menu, enables you to insert keywords, comments, and a link to your Web-based resume if you have one. You can use the “Comments” field to enter geographic and relocation preferences.
- A similar trick applies to using HTML commands called meta tags in creating a Web-based resume. The “description” command, for example, gives you up to 150 characters to provide a description of your document. Make sure you use words that highlight your e perience and skills. The “keywords” command gives you limited spa e to enter critical eywords. Be sure to use keywords that you think employers and recruiters might use in searching for the position you are seeking — and make sure those keywords are also listed at least once (perhaps in a “key accomplishments” section) in your resume. Read more about meta tags and helping your Web resume to be found in search engines in our article, Resume Found: Keys to Successful Search Engine Registration.
- Do some test runs of the formatted print resume you intend to send to employers as an attachment by sending it to the computers of a few friends to see if the formatting remains consistent from computer to computer. Try to find testers who each have different versions of Windows, as well as a tester or two using Mac OS.
- Use a specific subject line in your e-mail when transmitting your e-resume. The subject line might include the reference n
Additional Resources for Jobseekers:
- Guide to Job Interviewing Resources and Tools
- How to Write a Resume: Expert Answers 19 Common Questions
- LiveCareer Free Resume Builder
- 13 Best Resume Designs of 2018
- LiveCareer’s Salary Calculator
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her Ph.D in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market, as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes. With Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., she also authored Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills. Visit her personal website. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.