Different Types of Resumes, Electronic and Printed Resume Formatting

Everyone knows that the Internet has changed a lot about how companies find applicants. Not only are jobs posted differently now, but resumes are also reviewed differently. No longer is it enough for people to create the perfect resume, print it on high bond paper, put it in a matching envelope, mail it off, and expect a call from the recruiter.

Most jobs now require online resumes only – and those have to be much different than their paper predecessors. Most online job boards require electronic resumes, so if you don’t have one and are looking for a job – or will be looking soon – it’s time to get one ready.

Electronic resumes are generally plain text that can also be included in the body of an email for job applications online. They will not be as attractive as a paper resume with its hundreds of font choices and bullets galore, but all an electronic resume has to do is get the job done.

When an employer requires application materials to be sent via email or online, the employer will enter your resume into an applicant-tracking system. That software system will not care what your resume looks like. However, the system will care about the format – some formats are easier for it to read.

The system will scan the hundreds of resumes it receives and keep only those with keywords similar to the hiring company’s job descriptions. If nothing on your electronic resume matches the keywords, your resume will end up in the electronic recycling bin. So make sure you pay close attention to the job description for which you are applying. It doesn’t hurt to make sure you have keywords particular to your own industry as well; the employer does not have to pull its keywords from only the job description.

The first thing you will want to do when you go from paper to electronic is remove all formatting from the document you used for your paper resume. All those tabs, flush lefts, and centering look great on paper, but they actually confuse the computers. In fact, if you leave them in they might cause the computer reading your resume to skip entire lines. Luckily, it’s easy to remove formatting from any text document. All you have to do is save the document as text only or plain text. Some programs will give you the option to insert line breaks.

You want to accept this option. Then open the document in a program such as Notepad or SimpleText, or TextEditor to reformat. This text-only version should not have any unusual fonts, bolds, or bullets. Also, all of the text should be flush with the left side of the screen – that is, “flush left.”

You should be able to pick from a host of fonts, but the key is to keep it simple. Remember, the computer will not care if you use a fancy font, and there is a chance it might not even be able to read it. Stick with something like Times Roman, Courier, or Arial. Use a 12-point font, but not less than 10-point. The computer might have trouble scanning smaller fonts and might not recognize larger fonts.

If you want to break up your resume with headers such as Experience and Education just use all caps. Instead of using fancy bullets, just use a dash or asterisk. If you must indent – and it is not recommended – use the space bar to move text in, not the Tab key.

Now that you have gone through all the trouble to make your resume electronic friendly, double check that you have the necessary keywords to get the computer’s attention. It’s not necessary to go overboard, however. Putting a keyword in your resume three times is no better than just having it there once. Make sure that the most important words are listed early in the document because some programs don’t scan the entire document, only the top half.

Nouns are better than verbs because something like “electronic technician” will be looked for more than “award-winning.” Many programs don’t understand abbreviations, so spell out everything, especially your academic degrees and affiliations.

Once you are happy with the format, put it in the text of an email and send it to your friends and family. This test will enable others to see whether anything looks wrong or does not translate well. Someone receiving a resume on a Yahoo email account might see something slightly different than someone using GMail, so send it to a variety of accounts.

One last thing to note is that you should still have the version of your resume that is formatted well, easy to use and is printed on good paper. You’ll want this to hand to interviewers when you go for in-person interviews, and you’ll want to be able to attach it in an email when a recruiter requests it for that interview.