Website Template

Job Hunting in the Digital Age

by Greg Faherty, CPRW
How tech savvy are you when it comes to job hunting? Before you answer that question, take a moment and think carefully. In today's increasingly technology-focused world, knowing how to write your resume and e-mail it to companies is no longer enough. Here are some hidden strategies and rules you need to know or your resume might never reach its intended reader.

1. Up to date vs. too up to date: If you have a brand new computer and a brand new copy of Microsoft Office, you might be in trouble. That's because older versions of Microsoft Word can't read the current Word (.docx) documents. And it's a well-known fact most companies are slow to upgrade from one version of software to the next. That means the resume you send out might not get opened and read.

Solution: After you write your resume, save it as a Word 97-2003 (.doc) document rather than as a Word 2007 or higher (.docx) document. Then everyone will be able to open it.

2. Formatting glitches: If you copy and paste your resume into an e-mail or a submission box on a website, be aware the format will change. Bullets will turn into strange symbols, tabs will become giant spaces, and sometimes even apostrophes can change into other characters.

Solution: Either save a copy of your resume as a plain text (.txt) file in your computer and use that for cutting and pasting, or be sure to review the e-mail or submission before sending, and correct any format problems.

3. Keep things simple: People like to make their resumes look fancy. They insert graphics and tables, pictures, even logos. They use colors, headers, footers, and pretty bullet symbols. The problem is, most of these things don't transfer well when a company stores your resume in a database, meaning that when someone pulls up your resume to read it, it's nothing but a jumbled pile of gibberish.

Solution: The best resume is one that's easy to read and can be stored in a database, including databases that convert resumes to text files. Always assume this will happen, and format your resume without any fancy graphics, pictures, or tables.

4. To Word or not to Word: You have a lot of choices when it comes to writing and saving your resume on your computer. Microsoft/Windows, Macintosh, Adobe Acrobat, and others. Unfortunately, most HR offices not only don't like to open documents that aren't in Word, they refuse to. Which means if you send a Mac or Acrobat or WordPad or NotePad document, it's going to get deleted.

Solution: There are only two document formats you should ever use for your resume: Microsoft Word (.doc) or Rich Text Format (.rft), which is a document style all computers can work with. And for cutting and pasting a copy into an email or a submission box on a website, save a copy of your resume as a plain text (.txt) file in your computer and use that.

Technology is constantly changing, and if you want to stay competitive in finding a job, you have to keep up with the changes or your resume is likely to get overlooked.

Techno Tips
  • Never use Headers or Footers.  If a person or company saves the resume in a database, the header or footer might not get saved, meaning you're left with a resume that has no name on it.
  • Technology doesn't have to be expensive. Don't want to spend the money on Microsoft Office? Try OpenOffice. It's a free business suite that allows you to create .doc and .rtf documents just like MS Office.
  • Be careful with resume versions. Many people have multiple versions of their resume, for different job searches. Be sure to name them clearly, and don't send the wrong resume out to someone.
  • Be prepared for emergencies. Save copies of your resume and cover letter in more than one place. Use a CD, USB-ready memory stick, or an online backup service. That way, if something happens to your computer, you won't lose your documents.