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A friendly resume in the electronic age

When was the last time you printed a resume, put it in an envelope, and mailed it? If you’re my age (ahem…) it’s probably been about eight or ten years.  If you’re younger than I, you’ve probably never done this.  The internet has changed everything when it comes to doing a job search.  There are so many more things to consider than just ‘Does my resume look good on paper?’  Now we have to consider keywords, robot resume screeners, formatting, uploading, fonts, file type, templates, attachments, e-mail platforms….it can be a challenge to make your resume easy to open, easy to maintain proper formatting, easy for a person to read and easy for a screening robot to read. 

Here are a few considerations to help you do just that;

  • Always send a resume in MSWord- There is nothing cool or unique about  sending your resume as a .pdf, a zip file, or an HTML page.  If the intended recipient has problems opening your resume, they will simply stop trying and move on.
  • Keep the formatting simple- Everything you use in your resume, from font to formatting to bullet styles needs to be as common as possible to help ensure that it will remain properly formatted no matter who is opening it.  You may have created your resume in Word on a PC, but are sending it to a person who needs to open it using a Mac.  There are issues inherent in different platforms trying to ‘translate’ and make sense of fonts and formats that it doesn’t recognize as its own.  Your objective is to minimize this issue.  Use common fonts, and do not use tables, templates, or customized formatting. 
  • Tweak it- Make slight alterations to the wording of your resume for each position you apply to; a substantial proportion of resumes are filtered through screening programs that are searching for key words, brand-name employers and licensing or certification specifics.  Upgrade your chances of being put in the ‘Yes’ pile by tailoring your resume to include the most obvious words you can think of that a screening program would be searching for in that industry or position.
  • Tell them who you are- Do not forget to include all your contact information on your resume- including your e-mail address.  And please, make sure you are using an e-mail account with a professional and appropriate address.  Use addresses like, ‘’ for your personal mail only.
  • Use a summary statement- At the top of your resume, right under your contact information, include a short summary, no more than 4 sentences, that is rich with meaty information on your skills, qualifications, strengths and industry expertise.  Since most resumes are only viewed for 15 seconds before a ‘yes/no’ decision is made on them, you want to get across as much information as possible in the opening of your resume.  Write out a summary statement, then edit, edit, edit until you have a very powerful introduction.
  • Use bullet points- Do not waste space on your resume with long paragraphs describing your job duties.  Use bullet points to describe what you accomplished, with as many quantifiable numbers and percentages as possible.  Bulleted items are more easily scanned by both a hiring manager and a screening program.  Again- stick to basic ‘dot’ bullets and stay away from boxes or arrows or any other unnecessarily decorative characters.
  • Name your file- Everyone and their brother name their resume file, ‘resume.doc’, because on your home computer, it’s probably the only resume on there, right?  But imagine a hiring manager who receives 400 resumes a day and they’re all named, ‘resume.doc’!  Use your name as the file name.