Electronic resumes – dos and don’ts

There are two most commonly used methods for resume submission: uploading your resume to the employer’s web site or to the resume bank, and e-mailing your resume to the employer. Faxing or mailing your resume is virtually an obsolete practice, because employers are heavily relying on software programs that scan resumes for key words related to the available positions at their organizations. However, printed resumes are necessary for interviews. Thus, as professionals, we essentially have to have two versions of our resume. While there are numerous resources for composing a more traditionally formatted resume, many professionals are not sure how to create electronic resumes that will get noticed. To help you out, here are some dos and don’ts on

• DO create a plain text file of your resume. While you want certain items on your resume to stand out, you should still have a plain text file (.txt file) of your resume. Most employers request a plain text file, because they can run the file through computer software that scans your resume for key words related to the available jobs. When creating a text file, makes sure that you take the time to format the resume; check spacing and adjust any lines of text that seem out of place.

• DO follow instructions of your potential employer. If the employer is asking that you send your resume in the body of the e-mail, do not send them an attachment. Copy and paste the plain text resume you have created into the body of the email; take the time to check for potential formatting changes. Do not try to format the text by making portions of your resume bold, or change the font size or type. While you may have the email editor which allows for this formatting, your potential employer may only accept plain text messages. Stick to the basics for a successful transmission of your resume.

• DON’T save your resume as a PDF. This file type is typically larger in size, and is not very common for an electronic resume, that your potential employer may completely discard your email.

• DO test your electronic resume by sending it to a few friends via email. Because they may be using different e-mail providers, or have different software than you, they can let you know how your resume appears to them. This will help you in uncovering and correcting potential formatting problems, to assure that your resume is in great form by the time it reaches potential employers.

• DON’T make an assumption that including a resume in the body of an email is the only information you should include in your message to your potential employer. Even if the resume is copied into the email, you still need to let your employer know a little bit more about yourself via a cover letter. However, since you will include your address at the top of the email, feel free to start your resume with a career objective instead of including the heading with your name and address.

Chronological vs. functional resumes

A resume is a one- to two-page document summarizing your career objectives, professional experiences and achievements, and educational background.

While there are numerous ways to format your resume, there are two main resume styles: chronological and functional.

As its name implies, a chronological resume is one that lists your experience and education in order, starting with the most recent jobs or achievements. This type of resume is sometimes also referred to as reverse chronological resume, because the order of the listing starts with your current employment. This type of resume preferred – employers will want to know what job you currently hold so that they can better asses your qualifications for the job of your interest. The same is true for your education; your potential employer would rather know your most recent scholastic achievement. Listing your experience and education in reverse chronological order also shows your potential employer your overall career progress. It also helps in determining the length of employment at each organization, and indicates any gaps in your career (in case of gaps, make sure to address them in your cover letter as to not lead your employer to believe that you are omitting information on purpose). Chronological resume should list your current job, as well as two to four previously held positions. Don’t skip any employment information on purpose; if your employment history is long, or if you have held jobs further in the past that align well with your current career objective, you can address these qualifications in your professional profile or in your cover letter. Chronological resumes are the most commonly used style, and work best for anyone who has had some professional experience.

Functional resumes focus on your qualifications, not your career timeline. This style of the resume highlights what skills you have, rather than where and when you acquired or utilize them. In other words, instead of listing your experiences by your job titles, your resume will contained sections titled by your skills such as verbal and written communication, customer satisfaction, project management, etc. This resume style is recommended for college students seeking internships or their first jobs out of college, for those with no professional experience, those who have not worked for some time, or for career changers. While potential employers will appreciate the overview of your skills, if you hold any professional experience, consider using the chronological resume, or a combination resume, over the functional format.

A combination resume, although not often discussed, has become a popular format in recent years. As its name implies, it is a combination of chronological resume style and functional resume style. This hybrid style allows professionals to highlight the qualification they have that are critical for the job of their interest, while at the same time listing employment and educational history in reverse chronological order. A word of caution – don’t try to do too much when using a combination resume by going over board with the type and number of sections you include in your resume. It is best to keep the information listed, even in the combination format, to what is relevant for the job.

Same rules apply for each style. Don’t exceed two pages, tailor your resume to your career objective and put your best foot forward in order to get the interview, and eventually the job.

Importance of honesty and originality in the world of resumes

Your resume, in addition to listing your professional experience, education and qualifications, is a reflection of who you are. When you take the time to compose your resume well, make sure that there are no errors or gaps that would raise questions, and highlight the qualifications that present you as the best candidate for the job, you show your employer that you are a polished, detail-oriented professional. In addition to having your professional life presented in the best light, you want to make sure that your resume and your cover letter showcase your ethics and your sincerity. This is a difficult task, as it is hard to convey honesty and your good intentions in a form letter and a resume. But many employers hold a strict no tolerance policy against dishonesty. Thus, you have to take extra care in making sure that all of the information on your resume is authentic and truthful. Intentional lies on a resume are not acceptable. However, there are certain areas of your resume may cause you to unintentionally list incorrect information. Pay attention to the following aspects of your resume to assure that you don’t find yourself appearing untruthful to your potential employer:

– List your exact title under professional experience. Many professionals have titles that are company specific and may not make sense outside of the organization where they work. Always list your exact title, but feel free to add a few words that explain what you do in the realm of the industry. This way, when your potential employer calls your employer for a reference check, they will confirm your exact title but also know the scope of your position as it applies outside of that specific organization.

– When in doubt, don’t guess. For example, if you are unsure when you started or ended a job because it has been a long time since you worked for that company, simply call the company and ask about your employment dates. Do not make assumptions about dates, titles of your references or their contact information, certification dates, etc. Always take time to verify the information you are unsure about before including it on your resume.

– Don’t cover up your employment gaps. It is ok to have gaps in your employment; most professionals have gaps in their experience for various reasons. Do not try to hide this from your potential employers. Address the gaps in your work history in your cover letter, and be honest regarding the reasons you were not working during a specific time.

– Be honest about your accomplishments. Rather than worrying about the qualifications you may not have, be confident and highlight your work experience and achievement in a truthful manner. Do not exaggerate skills, professional roles, or stretch the employment dates. Work on presenting yourself and your qualifications in the best possible light; take the time to quantify your accomplishments, and compose a positive professional summary for your resume.

Revise your resume until you feel comfortable that all the information included is truthful and will not raise any questions by the employer that you have not addressed in the resume or the cover letter. The rule is – be honest on your resume. Don’t break that rule.

Tips for internship resumes

There is a special style of resumes called Internship resume. As its name implies, this style of a resume composed with a goal of getting an internship in a desired field. While Internship resumes are usually chronological in format, they have different goals than a resume created for purposes of acquiring a full-time professional position. First, your goal is not furthering your career but gaining experience and skills in order to expand on your education and later obtain a position in the industry. Second, internships do not require professional experience; this is a way for you to gain such experience so that you can later get a full-time job using what you learned during your internship. Third, your resume is more focused on your academic achievements than on your work background, because you have to demonstrate that the desired internship is a logical extension of your studies. With this in mind, college students, new or returning, typically utilize this resume style to get their foot in the door with the companies they may ultimately want to work for after graduation.

Much like any other professional resume, the internship resume should contain an objective. Here you should let your potential employer know how their internship aligns with your studies, what you can bring to the table, what you hope to gain out of the experience and how you will apply your newfound skills once you are out in the professional world. Essentially you are convincing your potential employer that you are the best candidate for the internship, that you will learn the most and that the experience is critical for your professional growth.

When composing your resume for an internship, you will need to highlight your education first. You should do more than just list your previous degrees or degrees in progress. Point out the classes you have taken that qualify you for the internship. Indicate how your major is in line with the internship and how this experience will help you in your future studies.

After you indicate your objective and your education, list your qualifications. Make a list ahead of time of all skills that qualify you for the internship. Review the list and prioritize it. Most commonly made mistake in resume writing is not prioritizing the information included, so you that your strongest skills fall at the bottom of the list. Consider what qualifies you for the internship. List those qualifications first so that your employer recognizes that you are a great fit for the position.

Your work experience can help, but is typically not a breaking point in getting an internship. If you have any work experience, include it in your resume. Make sure to prioritize your responsibilities as they relate to the internship. Make sure to indicate any experience you have in sharpening your employability skills, those skills that extend beyond your education and technical abilities such as communication, customer relations, team work, taking charge, etc.

Applying for an internship is somewhat different than applying for a full time job. Along with your internship resume, you will want to submit references. For any employment experience you’ve had to date, include your supervisor’s name, title and contact information so that your employer can obtain recommendations. In addition, it is of great benefit to you to have recommendation letters from your professors. Your professors can identify your skills in terms of your dedication, worth ethic, enthusiasm, interpersonal communication and interaction with others in your classroom. Employers look for these skills because they want to assure that you will be a good fit for their team, even if your role is a short term one. Ask two or three of your professors for their recommendation. Provide them with the contact information of your employer, including an email and a physical mailing address, so the letters can be mailed to your potential employer directly. Or, ask your professors to place their recommendation letters into sealed envelopes before giving them to you to assure that the information is confidential. If possible, include your transcripts with your resume. This will be a great indication of your commitment to your education, providing your grades are good. Your transcripts can only help in getting you the internship.

As a final step, proof your application materials. Feel free to seek assistance from your school’s career center. You have only one chance to make a great first impression – do it well, and you are sure to get the internship of your choice.