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Tips for Online Resumes

Below, find some information that was provided by a SI Alumnus on submitting an online resume -- and some from MSN Careers...

We "have received a number of resumes from SI folks in last couple of weeks. Problem is.. most of them are in PDF or Word format. Not very optimized for searching. If possible, it would be a good idea to keep a text version of the resume which will not lose formatting when copying and pasting in a text box on career sites. I remember somebody recommending this practice when I was at SI."

The MSN Careers article reiterates this information, but breaks it down in five easy steps to make your resume best for online search and applications.

Five Steps to an E-friendly Résumé by Eric Presley, CTO for CareerBuilder.com

Today's Internet-driven world has changed the way we look and apply for jobs. Gone are the days of handwritten cover letters, typewritten résumés and hand-delivered job applications. Given the increasing number of online job boards that require Web-based applications, many employers don't want a hard copy of your résumé. Instead, they'll ask you to submit an electronic résumé, either online or via e-mail.

Electronic résumés are plain text or HTML documents, which can also be included in the body of an e-mail for job applications online. It may not be as attractive as your word-formatted résumé in all its bulleted, bold-text, fancy-font glory, but it gets the job done.

Why you need one
When an employer asks you to submit your application materials via e-mail or online, your résumé will be entered into an automated applicant-tracking system. These systems don't care what your résumé looks like physically, which is why it's imperative you reformat yours so the database can read it. The system will scan your résumé (along with hundreds of others), keeping those with keywords similar to the company's job descriptions and discarding the rest.

Make sure you keep a hard (and visually appealing) copy of your résumé on hand – not all employers are up-to-date on the latest technologies and may still require a paper copy. Plus, you'll need one to give to employers at all of your interviews.

Here are five easy steps to format your existing résumé into an e-friendly work of art.

1. Remove all formatting from your original résumé.
Unfortunately, the same formatting that makes your résumé nice to look at makes it almost impossible for a computer to understand.

To remove the formatting, open your word-processed résumé and choose the "Save As" option under the "File" tab on your toolbar. Save the document type as Plain Text or Text Only. In the following dialog box, choose the option to insert line breaks.

2. Use Notepad, WordPad or SimpleText to reformat.
Close your original résumé document and reopen the text version using editing software like Notepad, WordPad or SimpleText. Your text version should be free of most graphic elements, like fancy fonts, lines and bullets. Text should be flush with the left side of the document.

3. Stick to a simple font and style.
Use clear, sans-serif fonts, like Courier, Arial or Helvetica. This way, the computer won't mistake your fancy lettering for a jumbled word.

Use a 12-point font; anything smaller won't scan well. Also, stay away from italics or underlining. Rather than using boldface type, try using capital letters to separate sections like education and experience.

Instead of using bullets, use such standard keyboard characters as an asterisk or a dash. Instead of using the "Tab" key, use the space key to indent. Make sure all headings – like your name, address, phone and e-mail – appear on separate lines, with a blank line before and after.

4. Apply keywords.
Applicant-tracking systems scan résumés for keywords that match the company's job descriptions. Fill your résumé accordingly with such words (as they pertain to your experience), but remember that using the same word five times won't increase your chances of getting called in for an interview.

Place the most important words first, since the scanner may be limited in the number of words it reads. Use nouns instead of verbs. For example: "communications specialist," "sales representative" or "computer proficiency" is better than "managed," "developed" or "generated."

Additionally, avoid abbreviations as best you can. Spell out phrases like "bachelor of science" or "master of business administration."

5. Test it out.
After you've reformatted your résumé into a text document, make sure it really is e-friendly. Practice sending your new résumé via e-mail to yourself, as well as friends who use a different Internet service provider. For example, if you use AOL, send it a friend who uses MSN Hotmail.

Send your e-résumé pasted in the body of an e-mail, rather as an attachment. Have your friend alert you to any errors that show when they open it, like illegibility and organization. After getting feedback, make any necessary adjustments.

Posted by kkowatch at May 27, 2008 10:26 AM

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