Not surprisingly, there are a variety of opinions about how to submit your resume to employers and even the experts disagree. I’ve formed my own opinions over the past 10+ years of assisting clients with the job search process. Not every recruiter, HR manager, or resume expert will agree with every one of my suggestions, but I hope you will take them seriously.
- If the employer or recruiter states a preference for receiving files in a certain format (mailed, faxed, or e-mailed), always provide the document in that format. Make them happy.
- It is NOT necessary to send out paper resumes these days in most job markets for most companies. However, for very important prospects, it is worth considering distributing the résumé in both hard copy and electronic formats. Aren’t you more impressed when someone takes the time to write out a letter instead of sending you an email? Your future employer might be similarly impressed. Our work culture is on the edge of making printed résumés obsolete, but there are still some employers who prefer them and many others who accept them. Print the documents ONLY on plain bright white bond paper. Southworth is one good brand of résumé paper. After all, e-mail delivery and the postal service are not 100% reliable, and you don’t want to risk getting your application lost in a spam folder or gobbled by gremlins. Use a high quality laser printer rather than an inkjet or dot matrix, even if it takes a trip to Kinko’s. If you are sending a photocopy of a laser-printed résumé, then be sure that the copy is neither smudged nor blemished by marks from the copier. Do not staple your résumé and cover letter.
Note: If you are reluctant to send out hard copies of your résumés out of “green” concerns, you do have other options. E-mail your resume first, and if you receive a response e-mail informing you that the résumé has been properly received, then do not mail. However, if you don’t receive confirmation of receipt, consider following up with a phone call to ensure that the document was received. Even then, be warned that you may be missing opportunities if you don’t deliver hard copies to your top prospects. Use 100% recycled paper.
- When distributing hard copies, it’s important to try to make the document stand out in the pile. Put the résumé unfolded in a large envelope addressed to the hiring manager (not the Human Resources staff). If the prospect is local, then personally deliver the envelope. Ask for the hiring manager at the front desk and attempt to deliver it personally. If that is not possible, then leave it with the receptionist or H.R. staff. Just the fact that it is unstamped will make the package stand out and call to the hiring manager’s attention your strong interest in the position. If it is not practical to personally deliver the documents, then send the hard copies by Express/Overnight Mail (if it’s within your budget) or First Class Mail.
- If you are uncertain of the format that the employer or recruiter desires, always submit your file electronically, whether or not you choose to deliver a hard copy. When sending an employer or recruiter an electronic version of your résumé, and they ONLY accept one file (usually this is because their Web site only allows you to upload one file), then upload a Microsoft Word (.docx) file. The .docx format has its disadvantages (the formatting is impossible to control perfectly because the appearance of the document is dependent on the display and printer settings of the employer’s computer); however, it is the most universally accepted format. Only a few years ago I advised clients to go with the DOC format over DOCX because many employers had not yet upgraded to Word 2007, but by now virtually everyone knows about the DOCX format.