Today's successful solution
Printed, Scannable, Electronic, and Web Resumes
After you have worked so tirelessly to write a winning resume, your next challenge is the resume's design, layout, and presentation. It is not enough for it to read well; your resume must also have just the right look for the right audience. And, just as with everything else in a job search, no specific answer exists. You must make a few decisions about what your final resume presentation will look like.
The Four Types of Resumes
In today's employment market, job seekers use four types of resume presentations:
Electronic (email attachments and ASCII text files)
The following section gives details on when you would need each type, as well as how to prepare these types of resumes
The Printed Resume
We know the printed resume as the "traditional resume," the one that you mail to a recruiter, take to an interview, and forward by mail or fax in response to an advertisement. When preparing a printed resume, you want to create a sharp, professional, and visually attractive presentation. Remember, that piece of paper conveys the very first impression of you to a potential employer, and that first impression goes a long, long way. Never be fooled into thinking that just because you have the best qualifications in your industry, the visual presentation of your resume does not matter. It does, a great deal.
The Scannable Resume
The scannable resume can be referred to as the "plain-Jane" or "plain-vanilla" resume. All of the things that you would normally do to make your printed resume look attractive - bold print, italics, multiple columns, sharp-looking type-style, and more - are stripped away in a scannable resume. you want to present a document that can be easily read and interpreted by scanning technology.
Although the technology continues to improve, and many scanning systems in fact can read a wide variety of type enhancements, it is sensible to appeal to the "lowest common denominator" when creating your scannable resume. Follow these formatting guidelines:
Choose a commonly used, easily read font such as Arial or Times New Roman.
Do not use bold, italic, or underlined type.
Use a minimum of 11 - point type size.
Position your name, and nothing else, on the top line of the resume.
Keep text left - justified, with a "ragged" right margin.
It is fine to use some abbreviations (for instance, scanning software will recognize "B.S." as a Bachelor of Science degree). But, when in doubt, spell in out.
Eliminate graphics, borders, and horizontal lines.
Use plain, round bullets or asterisks.
Avoid columns and tables, although a simple tow-column listing can be read without difficulty.
Spell out symbols such as "%" and "&".
If you divide words with slashes, add spaces before and after the slash to be certain the scanner does not misread the letters.
Print using a laser printer on smooth white paper.
If your resume is longer than one page, be sure to print on only one side of the paper; put your name, telephone number, and e-mail address on the top of page two; and do not staple the pages together.
For best possible results, mail your resume (do not fax it), and send it flat in a 9 inch x 12 inch envelope so that you will not have to fold it.
Of course, you can avoid scannability issues completely by sending your resume electronically, so that it will not have to pass through a scanner to enter the company's databank. Read the next section for electronic resume guidelines.
The Electronic Resume
Your electronic resume can take two forms: e-mail attachments and ASCII text files.
When including your resume with an e-mail, simply attach the word-processing file of your printed resume. Because a vast majority of businesses use Microsoft Word, it is the most acceptable format and will present the fewest difficulties when attached.
However, given the tremendous variety in versions of software and operating systems, not to mention printer drivers, it is quite possible that your beautifully formatted resume will look quite different when viewed and printed at the other end. To minimize these glitches, use generous margins (at least 0.75 inch all around). Don't use unusual typefaces, and minimize fancy formatting effects.
Test your resume by e-mailing it to several friends or colleagues, and then having them view and print it on their systems. If you use WordPerfect, Microsoft Works, or another word-processing program, consider saving your resume in a more universally accepted format such as RTF or PDF. Again, try it out on friends before sending it to a potential employer.
ASCII Text Files
You will find many uses for an ASCII text version of your resume.
To avoid formatting problems, you can paste the text into the body of an e-mail message rather than send an attachment. Many employers actually prefer this method. Pasting text into an e-mail messages lets you send your resume without the possibility of also sending a virus.
You can readily copy and paste the text version into online job application and resume blank forms, with no worries that formatting glitches will cause confusion.
Although it is unattractive, the text version is 100 percent scannable.
To create a text version of your resume, follow these steps:
Create a new version of your resume using the Save As feature of your word-processor program. Select "text only" or "ASCII" in the Save As option box.
Close the new file.
Reopen the file, and you will find that your word processor has automatically reformatted your resume into Courier font, removed all formatting, and left-justified the text.
To promote maximum readability when sending your resume electronically, reset the margins to 2 inches left and right, so that you have a narrow column of text rather that a full-page width. (This margin setting will not be retained when you close the file, but in the meantime you can adjust the text formatting for best screen appearance. For instance, if you choose to include a horizontal line [perhaps something like this: +++++++++++++++++++] to separate sections of the resume, by working with the narrow margins you will not make the mistake of creating a line that extends past the normal screen width. Plus, you will not add hard line breaks that create odd-length lines when seen at normal screen width.)
Review the resume and fix any "glitches" such as odd characters that may have been inserted to take the place of "curly" quotes, dashes, accents, or other nonstandard symbols.
If necessary, add extra blank lines to improve readability.
Consider adding horizontal dividers to break the resume into sections for improved skimmability. You can use any standard typewriter symbols such as *, -. (,), =, ^, or #.
The Web Resume
This newest evolution in resumes combines the visually pleasing quality of the printed resume with the technological ease of the electronic resume. You host your Web resume on your own Web site (with your own URL), to which you refer prospective employers and recruiters. Now instead of seeing just a "plain-Jane" version of your e-mailed resume, with just one click a viewer can access, download and print your Web resume - an attractive nicely formatted presentation of your qualifications.
What is more, because the Web resume is such an efficient and easy-to-manage tool, you can choose to include more information than you would in a printed, scannable, or electronic resume. Consider separate pages for achievements, technology qualifications, equipment skills, honors and awards, management skills, and more, if you believe they would improve your market position. Remember, you are working to sell yourself into your next job!
Those of you in technology professions can take it one step further and create a virtual multimedia presentation that not only tells someone how talented you are, but also visually and technologically demonstrates it. Web Resumes are an outstanding tool for people seeking jobs in technology-based industries.