How many different versions of my resume do I need?

In my google eavesdropping, I'm noticing that lots of people have been searching on keywords suggesting that they are looking for resume advice...anything from resume formats, to digital resumes. In the past I recommended that you have .doc and .txt copies of your resumes but I wanted to expand on that a little bit by explaining the different types of resumes that can be utilized for different parts of the recruiting process.

1) Traditional resume. This is a .doc copy, preferably. Simple formatting, but bold, underline and font size changes throughout the resume are OK. This is the resume you will use when communicating directly with a recruiter in e-mail. If you send this resume to an e-mail address on a corporate jobs page, this resume will likely be converted to a .txt file and will be scanned into a database. I recommend that you put together a .txt resume in addition to the doc so you have control over how your .doc format is translated (I often see peoples' address and contact info really messed up when converted to .txt because it runs down both left and right margins of the page in a .doc and only the left margin in a .txt)

2) Resume for scanning. This is your .txt resume. Just gives you more control when submitting it to a database. You'll avoid scanning errors (it still happens) and formatting adjustments. Just take the .doc and save it as a .txt. Check it out to make sure that visually, it still flows. Sometimes this is what people mean by digital resume, sometimes it's more like a resumeblog...

3) Resumeblog or resume housed on general blog. This is more of a tool to get found in the first place. Make sure you have the right key words in there. You can use the same content as you did in your traditional resume, but can link to more detail about things that you have worked on. Don't forget to include contact info on your blog. Once a recruiter engages, send the .doc copy and .txt directly to him/her(unless you apply through a corporate web page, I recommend sending the .txt copy to the recruiter at first contact so they can get it into the database...if  a recruiter contacts you and you already applied to the company via their jobs page, your resume is already in the database, so just send them the .doc copy for internal routing and printing for interviews)

These are just the 3 resume forms I would spend time developing if I were looking right now. A couple more words of advice (my opinion, of course) on resumes:

-Recruiters don't generally like pictures on resumes and the reasons why tend to vary. There really isn't anything to be gained by adding a picture so I find that at the least, it's unnecessary and can be viewed as frivolous and distracting. I realize that in other cultures it may be more of a common practice, but I wouldn't recommend it here in the US.

-”Objective” section on a resume is not necessary. No harm if you put one in, unless your objective conflicts with the role to which you are applying or it contains too much personal/irrelevant information. Some people tend to get a little philosophical in this section of a resume. When in doubt, leave it out.

-Every time you initiate or re-initiate contact with a recruiter, attach your .doc resume. Recruiters will tell you they spend plenty of time going back into folders to find resumes (remember, our database stores .txt and we like to share .doc copies with our hiring managers). It makes it easier on the recruiter if you attach it. Don't worry about it if you are “in-process” at the time. But do attach for introductory e-mails and “remember me?” e-mails (we actually will be much more likely to remember you by resume than just by name).

-I believe I have mentioned this before but extraneous personal info should not be included on the resume. However, if you have pursued something outside of work that shows dedication and/or excellence, go ahead and include it. Relevance is the rule of thumb with regard to including hobbies/personal achievements.

-Make sure that what you include is true and doesn't conflict with previous versions of your resume that have either been sent to this employer or exist online. True story: I contacted a candidate once who sent 2 resumes with different dates and employer names. Same address, same phone number, same education, same person.

I just wanted to provide some info so you have control of how your resume appears to recruiters searching in-house databases (.txt), recruiters searching the web (resumeblogs and other online formats) and to hiring managers (.doc).

Comments (1)

  1. I’d add just a few thoughts:

    1. Have a really short (1 page version) of your resumes. Some companies are really, really into this (I know several hiring managers in MS that swear by them).

    2. Have a really long version of your resume. All your technical abilities, everything. This is great for your resumeblog, as Google’ll eat up the search words.

    3. While an "Objective" section is generally useless (unless you’re doing a career shift in which case it can be useful), a "Profile" section can (sometimes) be very useful. These days I tend to think a cover letter should fulfill the "Profile" section’s goals, but if you can’t have a cover letter or the cover letter and resume are likely to get separated it’s not a bad idea to have.

    I will, of course, defer to the experts on these points. In addition, the naming of the .doc file can be extremely important if you’re making it available online. A keyword-rich name can bring you up several pages (nevermind ranks) in Google. I tend to have mine as things like JeremyWright_Program_Manager.doc. It’s also great for those recruiters who save the .docs as it’s really easy to reference.

    Again, defer to the experts though 😉

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