Sending your resume by e-mail may sound like the simplest part of the job search, but beware.
By Lisa Vaas
It sounds simple: You learn about a job opening and prepare electronic copies of your resume and cover letter to make your case for an interview.
Not so fast, though: Clicking the "Send" button is may send your document straight to a spam folder for unwanted e-mail. Here's how to increase the odds your resume will be read by a recruiter or hiring manager.
E-mail attachment pros & cons
The first question about e-mailing your resume is whether to send it as an attachment or just paste it in as text in the e-mail body. Career coaches and hiring professionals don't agree on this issue. When it comes to attachments, they cite these cons:
- Attachments take up too much space in the recipient's inbox
- Attachments may harbor security threats, such as viruses
- A hiring company's security system may block messages with attachments or bar the recipient from opening attachments
- Overworked hiring professionals may not take the time to open an attachment
Tammy Kabell, a career and resume consultant who runs Career Resume Consulting, said employers are "just as wary of viruses as everyone else, and are hesitant to open unsolicited attachments." That's why she recommends "never" sending a resume as an attachment.
Others cite these attachment pros:
- Word or PDF attachments are more attractively formatted than pasted-in text resumes
- PDF attachments can't be tinkered with
The best practice is to do exactly what the company or hiring professional requested or find out what they prefer.
When in doubt, try sending it both ways, said Martin Yate, a career-management trainer and coach as well as the author of the forthcoming "Knock em Dead: The Ultimate Job Search Guide." He suggests that job seekers consider sending two e-mails: one with the resume pasted in and one with the resume pasted in as well as attached.
Cut and paste
If you plan to paste the resume into an e-mail, Kabell recommended starting the e-mail with a brief introduction of yourself, one that's "much more succinct than a traditional cover letter. I would recommend two paragraphs of two to three lines each, maximum."
At the end of the brief introduction, indicate that you've pasted in your resume following your signature. If you've also attached it, write that you've attached your resume and have also pasted it in after your signature.
Then, below your name and contact information, paste your resume. Some tips on formatting the text:
- Keep each line short - between 45 and 60 characters - in case the recipient can only receive plain-text e-mails and not HTML
- Use spaces instead of tabs for indenting
- Instead of bolding text, set off headings with rows of equal signs, and use capitalization to emphasize text:
How to evade spam folders
If you are concerned about being caught by the spam filter, there are a number of ways to ensure your e-mail squeaks through:
- Instead of attaching your resume, paste it into the body of the e-mail.
- Keep exclamation marks out of the subject line and body of the text, Kabell recommends.
- Don't use any words in the document or headline that could be misinterpreted by the spam filters as something inappropriate, said Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solvers, a career.coach and executive recruiting firm.
Write an attention-getting subject header
"A great way to get a hiring professional's attention with the subject line is to identify an issue or offer a solution," Kabell said. She cited this example of an attention-grabbing subject header: "Re: reducing operating expenses by 15%" if you've in fact done that in the past, or "Re: Obtaining Wal-Mart as a client" if you have a working relationship with a buyer from Wal-Mart.
And finally, make sure you follow up by e-mail or phone to ensure your resume was received and accepted.
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