Electronic/Scannable Résumés

What is an electronic résumé?
Emailing your résumé
Creating a plain text résumé
Creating a scannable résumé
Consider a PDF
Should I consider a web résumé?

What is an electronic résumé?

An electronic résumé is one that has been designed specifically interact with a computer. There are many different aspects to keep in mind when creating an electronic résumé and how an individual may interact with it. An electronic résumé can be:

  • Easily read on a computer screen
  • Saved to a computer hard drive or other storage device
  • Searched for keywords
  • Converted into other files types as needed
  • Printed on paper

Emailing your résumé

If you will be emailing your résumé, find out from the recipient if they will accept it as an attachment and, if so, what format it should follow. If you send an attachment, give that file a name the recipient will clearly associate with you. For example, SmithJohn.doc is specific, while the file name resume.doc could belong to anyone.

You may not be able to learn the recipients preference. In that case, you will want to include your résumé in the body of the email, as well as an attachment. To be sure the recipient will be able to read the body of your email, you will want to create a second version of your résumé known as plain text. Plain text files are identified by the file extension .txt and eliminates all formatting. All computers and email applications can read plain text files.

Creating a plain text résumé

When creating a plain text résumé, you will begin with the file that contains all your formatting.

  1. In your word processor (for example, Microsoft Word), set the margins so your text has a width of 6.5".
  2. Use the Save As option to save your document
  3. Under file type, select plain text
  4. If using MS Word 2007, you will have an option for inserting line breaks. Be sure to activate this option.
  5. Create a file name for your new plain text résumé and select save.

Notepad allows you to view your plain text résumé as the recipient will see it. Before sending your résumé, you will want to view it in Notepad so that you may make any corrections to the plain text file. Once you have made any required corrections to your plain text résumé file, it is ready to be sent.

Creating a scannable résumé

Some employers may require that your résumé be in a scannable format. This may be required if the employer uses software to scan résumés received for keywords. To ensure your résumé makes the scannable cut, follow these simple guidelines:

  1. Use a standard 8½" x 11" sheet of paper. Print only on one side.
  2. Put your name, address, phone number, and email address at the top of the first page, each on separate lines. Put your name on top of page two.
  3. Include as many keywords as possible. These are the search terms potential employers will use.
  4. Use a sans serif font such as Helvetica, Arial or Verdana; or use a common font such as Times New Roman or Times.
  5. Use a normal font size; between 11 and 14 points.
  6. Use CAPS for major headings, but avoid italics, script, shadow, decorative and underlines passages. Make sure letters to not touch each other.
  7. Although most systems can process bold text, it is safer to avoid it.
  8. Avoid graphics and shading.
  9. Use horizontal and vertical lines sparingly and allow ¼" of white space around the line.
  10. Omit parentheses and brackets. Format phone number as 000-000-0000.
  11. Do not compress spaces between letters; 65 characters per line is the maximum.
  12. Avoid folding or stapling the résumé.
  13. Use a traditional résumé structure, such as chronological, functional or combination.
  14. Use a letter-quality or laser printer.
  15. Avoid using separators such as vertical lines and slash marks. Software could easily misinterpret these as letters.
  16. Separate headings and paragraphs by at least one full line of white pace.
  17. If you use bulleted lists, use a text-only character such as a hyphen or asterisk. Separate the bullet and test with white space.

Consider a PDF

Creating a PDF of your résumé will allow the recipient to see it exactly as you intended. PDF (Portable Document Format) documents are completely compatible among the various computer platforms - Windows, Macintosh and Linux. PDF files retain their original appearance from one computer to another. A second advantage of this format is that the document is immune to viruses.In order to read your résumé, the recipient will need to have Adobe Reader. Fortunately, this software is free from Adobe's website (www.adobe.com). For the recipient's convenience, you may want to include a link to this site in your email message.

A negative to a PDF résumé is that the format makes performing keyword search more difficult for the recipient. They either have to scan the document first or extract the text into another format. This may take you out of the running in a competitive field.

Should I consider a web résumé?

Web résumés are not for everyone. A select few (especially those in high-tech fields) will find this résumé option helpful. A web résumé is one that resides on a website. The benefit of having a web résumé is the inclusion of links allowing for a multidimensional interaction. Those who work in the fields of multimedia, Internet, software, etc., can provide links to their projects or website within the body of their résumé. Essentially, a web résumé allows you to incorporate an electronic portfolio directly into your résumé.

When emailing your web résumé to a potential employer, make your email message a cover letter that includes a link to your web résumé. Include it as a hyperlink, as well as the full web address, should links not transfer through the email system. Providing this opportunity to view your work as well, you may just have a step up above your competition.