One of the local papers had an article about how to increase the odds of your emailed resume being read and acted upon. I thought this topic would be a good follow up to my post on how to get your resume read. While I thought the advice was generally good, I had a few comments and some additional advice I’d like to share. The first three points are those from the newspaper with my comments added.
1. Use the Right Attachment Format
It’s important to attach your resume in a format that the recipient can read. The article recommends saving it in MS Word 97-2003 format (.doc) as opposed to a Word 2007 (.docx) file format. While this is a step in the right direction, I recommend taking it a step further.
MS Word is the most popular word processing program — exponentially more popular than its competitors. So it’s wise to send it in the Word .doc format. But I also recommend sending it in .PDF format which is a format recognized by most PCs. That way, no one should have a problem reading your resume.
Word 2007 can automatically save to .PDF format. For older versions of Word or other word processors, PrimoPDF is a free program that allows you to create a PDF from any program that prints.
2. Name Your Attachment Wisely
It’s all too often that people name their resumes “resume.doc.” This really can present a problem in bigger companies that receive a lot of applicants for the same position. In bigger companies, a person (or a team of people) receive all email submissions and then pass them on to the hiring manager for review. During times like these, it’s not uncommon for multiple applicants that meet all qualifications to apply for a position. So a recruiter may forward several resumes at a time in the same email to the decision maker. If they take this approach, the recruiter would have to rename all the resumes named “resume.doc” to something more meaningful to attach them all to the same message.
So naming your resume “firstname.lastname.doc” (with your name) not only makes the recruiter’s life a little easier, but also prevents the potential error of the recruiter mislabeling your resume or accidentally deleting the file while trying to rename it. If your name has special characters such as an apostrophe or if there’s a space within your first or last name, leave them out. So if your name is “Mary Jane St. John-Smyth” name you’d name your resume “maryjane.stjohn-smyth.doc.”
3. Include Some Text With Your Attachment
It’s just bad manners to send an email with only an attachment and nothing in the body of the message. And that’s still true even if you attach a cover letter. I personally put what I’d put in the cover letter in the message body, but some companies prefer that the cover letter be submitted in an attachment. At the very least, I recommend something along the lines of the following:
To whom it may concern,
Attached is a cover letter and resume for the open position of Senior Manager at XYZ Corp. If you are unable to open either attachment, please let me know and I will resend in your format of choice.
Again, this is something that is really effortless yes so many people drop the ball on it. One recruiter told me that she doesn’t even look at an email if there’s no text in the message body.
4. Make Sure Your Attachment Doesn’t Have a Virus
Scan your computer regularly for viruses. If you don’t want to succumb to the extortionist practices that many anti-virus companies use to get you to pay for new software each year, I recommend AVG Free. Nothing leaves a worse first impression during this digital age than sending a resume that’s infected with a virus.
5. Check Your File Properties
These days, many files contain meta data. In the Windows world, you can see this with some files by right-clicking on them and selecting properties. For word processor documents, you can often see the author, company and some other fields. I recommend that you make sure that there’s nothing that might embarrass you in these fields. Sometimes, hovering the mouse of the file may make some of this data appear. The last thing you want is for a recruiter to see the name “Fart Boy” as the author of your resume.
These fields are sometimes set when you install your word processor (or they can be changed by a mischievous friend). So just take a quick look and change the fields if necessary.
All of these steps are pretty much common sense and although they don’t give you a huge advantage over other candidates, they do prevent you from making some fatal mistakes. So spend the extra five minutes to ensure that everything looks good and you’ll at least ensure that your resume isn’t automatically rejected.