E-Resumes: What Works Best

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E-Resumes: What Works Best
As published in The Flightpath News - December 4, 2002
By Kevin T. Buckley

E-Resumes: What Works Best

Have you ever wondered why you weren't called back on the Internet job posting application you sent that seemed tailored to your experience and qualifications? Maybe, the computer couldn't read your electronic resume (e-resume) effectively.

Welcome to the world of Automated Applicant Tracking (AAT) -- software programs that are designed to sift through resumes to categorize and classify them. Many employers and recruiters are using them now. How do these programs work? A hiring manager enters certain keywords that serve as selection criteria for the AAT software to measure your resume information against. These are often the vital elements of the job experience, skills, qualifications and academic accomplishments being sought by the employer. If your resume contains a high percentage of keywords matching those that the computer is programmed to recognize, it has a better chance of surviving this first step in the selection process. If it can't read your document, there won't be any follow up.

Create or save your resume in a text-editing program like Notepad for Windows or Textedit for Apple users. Use standard 10 or 12-point fonts such as Courier or Arial for the text. Left-justify the text for easier reading. Remove the bold print, bullet points, italics, underlining and unusual symbols. Keep the text plain and simple. Replace bullet-points and other symbols with asterisks or hyphens. Check your spelling because one misspelled word can make a difference. Plain text (.txt) resumes are coded in ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) and it is one of the most popular file formats that can easily be read by different computers across the Internet. Rich text (.rtf) is another good choice for an ASCII coded e-resume. These file formats are the best choice for on-line submissions.
Choose keywords that highlight your skills and experience. Condense your abilities and qualifications to some essential words and phrases. Use industry terms and phrases that identify your specific job skills, qualifications and experience to the reader. Place these in a Skills Summary section directly following your contact information. Enter your positions held information in the order of most recent first. For some excellent examples of e-resumes and how to construct them, visit this site: www.eresumes.com the leading authority on the Internet for electronic resumes and related topics.

Organize your information with the most important keywords and phrases appearing in the top third of your document. Eventually, a person controlling the hiring process may be looking at your resume and you have an average of 30 seconds of screen time to interest the reader enough to call you or email you. Make the most of this limited time and always include your email address on your e-resume in case the reviewer is using a printed copy to work from.

Unless you are requested to do so, avoid sending your e-resume or the cover letter as an attachment. Copy and paste your e-resume and cover letter text in your email message instead. You don't want your e-resume information scrambled if the computer should fail to open your attachment properly. With all the viruses out there, you reduce the security risk for the recipient of your message and save them time opening your file for review.

Remember that your e-resume is competing for attention with dozens if not hundreds of other resumes sent for review. Speak to the AAT software in terms that it can understand, and clearly tell the potential employer what you can do. Your next call may be an impressed hiring manager looking to set up a meeting with you.

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