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Resumes on the Internet

Q: "Now I find myself in the job market, it only makes sense to use the internet to research potential employers and reply to job listings. Having had problems opening people's email attachments, I know there are things I must do to put my resume into a legible format that both computers and recruiters will enjoy reading. But what are they?"

A: If only computers were as smart as people, we wouldn't have to worry about appeasing their rather primitive brains. Yet, since technology is providing access to an unprecedented number of job opportunities via the internet, it's worth the effort to put together documents our electronic partners can understand. To construct a resume computers and scanners love to read, keep the following tips in mind for both your content and format.

Put your name, address, email address, phone and fax numbers on separate lines at the top of your resume. Otherwise a scanner may run them together into one long phrase. If your resume is more than one page, put your name at the top left corner of every subsequent page.

Use a san serif typeface in a ten to fourteen point font size.

Allow plenty of white space to help the scanner separate the important elements of your resume. It's better to use two or three pages than one crowded one. Computers are very fast readers.

Italicized and underlined words may not agree with an employer's scanner. To avoid a product that translates into alphabet soup, highlight major titles with all caps or bold type. Also eliminate hollow bullets, boxes, and shading.

Since computers look for key words to match candidates with job requirements, be sure you include the expected jargon either in a key word summary toward the top of your resume or sprinkled liberally throughout the text. You are playing a numbers game where winning the candidate lottery depends on how many times you use the right words to describe skills a potential employee wants. The people with the most "hits" will get the opportunity to talk to a real person. Those who make no effort to tailor their resumes don't stand a chance in this contest of "Tailor or Die."

Choosing rich text, rather than your usual software format, will make it easy to open a resume file attached to an email. Or, copy your resume and paste it directly into the text of your message. For added insurance, offer the copy/paste version along with your attachment.

Even though most people don't send cover letters with resumes over the internet, it's worth the extra effort. A computer will store both your cover letter and your resume for possible human consumption. If you make it through the initial screening, management will appreciate the extra information your cover letter provides.

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