Internet job hunt poses new questions about resumes

Dear Joan:

I have been submitting my resume on the Internet and I would like some advice. Should it be sent as an attachment or pasted in an e-mail memo? Should I format it in Word and then save it in ASCII, so it prints out properly?

I used to send my cover letter as an attachment but then I heard that it should be in the e-mail letter portion, so that the person can review it quickly and decide if they want to look at the resume.

I was also told to follow up all e-mail submissions with a hard copy. I think that seems like too much paperwork. I think a follow up call to the recipient should be sufficient. What do you think?

Also, is it okay to send resumes 10 days after the ad appeared in the paper?


There are two ways to send resumes electronically. The preferred version is to create an ASCII (plain text) version of your resume and store it on your computer, so you can conveniently and repeatedly copy and paste it, without reformatting each time. (When your computer asks you if you want to save the document, ASCII is one of your options.) Even though it's not very pretty, today's employers prefer it because all computers universally recognize ASCII.

Regardless of the font style of your original resume, Word converts your ASCII resume font to Courier, which is fine. But when you copy and paste your resume into an e-mail, your application may convert to a less-suited font. Be sure to convert it back to a standard font. Times New Roman, Courier, and Arial all work well for ASCII resumes. Also be sure your e-mail sending format is plain text.

To test your resume, save it. If Word warns you that formatting will be lost, you've included one or more formatting commands that don't work in ASCII. That's not a problem. Just click "yes" to continue saving your new resume. Then close and open it again. Word automatically removes whatever you did that displayed the warning.

To further test your new resume, copy and paste it into the body of an e-mail and send it to yourself. Make formatting adjustments as needed. You're now ready to copy and paste into e-mails and online resume forms with some occasional tweaking on electronic employment forms.

The second way to submit your resume is the scannable print resume. The scannable resume is a semi-plain, formatted resume that employers scan into computers (usually searchable, resume databases) using optical scanners. Be sure to include all the keywords listed in the job posting or newspaper ad, since that is what the computer is looking for. Also, choose nouns that indicate your accomplishments rather than verbs that focus on duties.

Scannable resumes must be relatively simple to ensure scanners convert them to searchable text accurately. Some look no different than ASCII resumes, but they can be just a little fancier. If you're a graphic artist or design person who wants to show your work, follow up with your print version.

Unless the employer instructs you otherwise, never send your resume or cover letter as an attachment. With the proliferation of computer viruses, most recipients prefer that you include your resume directly in the body of your e-mail. If you send attachments without permission, recipients may delete your message without even reading them. The bottom line is, if recipients don't request it, don't do it, or ask first.

If you don't know what e-mail applications recipients are using, it's not a good idea to send fancy e-mail resumes such as in hypertext markup language (HTML). Although many e-mail applications display HTML these days, some older versions don't.

It's a good idea to send a follow up hard copy but not required. To be safe, why not ask?

Finally, whether an ad is two days old or ten days old, submit your resume. It generally takes awhile to sort through all the resumes and start scheduling interviews. Sometimes the employer hasn't found the right candidate even a month after the ad was run.

© Joan Lloyd & Associates, Inc.