|More Resume Advice|
I'll be graduating from college in June and I'm stepping up my job search, but I need some pointers on how to create a resume that will "translate" well online. I have been using the ASCII (or .txt) format, but I don't know for sure that it isn't coming out all mixed up at the other end. Is there a standard format I should follow? Also, I have heard that resumes should not exceed one page in length, but I have a lot of work experience already (from internships and part-time jobs). Should I leave out some of it or try to squeeze everything on one page?
A. Dear N.T.:
1) Set your page width to 60 characters. (Some screens read only 60 characters across.)
2) If you have used bullets, replace them with asterisks or hyphens.
3) Take out all tabs, and use your spacebar instead.
4) Because your resume may be processed electronically, delete any long leaders like.......this, which will only befuddle the scanner.
5) Use short lines. Lines of text that extend the whole width of your page may be read as zeroes by some software.
6) If you have written your resume using word-processing software like Word or WordPerfect, save an additional version in text format. This will take out most previous formatting. Most software now allows you to save in ASCII. If yours does, use this feature. (For the uninitiated, ASCII, pronounced "AS-key," stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It means plain text that can be read by any computer.)
7) Open the text version in Notepad. Edit the text to make sure that it is text-only at this point. With older software, you may place the text on your Clipboard.
8) Cut and paste the text onto an e-mail page and send it to yourself. Check it over to see how it looks and make any revisions that are needed.
As for whether you need to confine yourself to one page, online job-hunting has changed the rules somewhat, because employers' computers are programmed to scan for certain key phrases ("product manager" or "Microsoft Excel," for example). The more thorough your description of your experience, and hence the more potential keywords it contains, the better. Even , which has stricter rules than other Websites, allows job seekers up to 6,000 characters. That's about three times the number of characters in a typical one-page resume.
Even so, hiring managers encourage you not to let your resume ramble on aimlessly. Says Laura Walters, a recruiter at , "You should try to minimize any experience that isn't directly related to the job you are applying for. If you're unsure of what you want to do after graduation, create multiple resumes with different focuses--for instance, one geared toward systems analysis and another one toward software development, or one toward marketing and another toward customer service. Having a resume that is two pages or longer won't eliminate you from the running for a given job, but being precise and to the point will certainly maximize your chances of getting the interview."
Why Am I Getting Nowhere in My Online Job Search?
Monday, April 24, 2000
By Anne Fisher
Q. Dear Annie:
I've enjoyed your readers' comments on putting together a good online resume, but I'm wondering if I'm the only one having a big problem with this. Namely, I've done my resume correctly, sent it out to lots of job-posting boards (and directly to several companies that asked for online applicants), and so far--no response. I am pretty sure I would be the ideal candidate for some of these jobs, yet I never hear back from any employers. Can you tell me what is going on?
Puzzled in Pittsburgh
A. Dear Puzzled:
Yes, I think I can, and cheer up: It isn't your fault. There are so many millions of online resumes around now (1.6 million posted on Monster.com alone, according to one estimate I saw recently) that hiring managers at companies report being swamped with information. Debbie Hansen, who's in charge of online recruiting at Gateway, spoke for thousands of her beleaguered counterparts when she told a trade newsletter a few months ago: "Internet recruiting right now is a mixed blessing. We've been overwhelmed."
Added Leslie Fagenson, director of global human resources at Merrill Lynch: "We spend too much time processing candidates when we should be finding and evaluating them."
As a result of the flood tide of resumes, job seekers often get nowhere fast. A new Yankelovich Partners survey, conducted for an online recruiting service called , says that 40% of people who have tried to find a job online say that posting a resume on a job board is "equivalent to sending it into a black hole." More than 50% of those polled say their online job search has "seldom or never" led to an interview for a job that matched their qualifications. (Sound familiar?)
This will undoubtedly change as companies become more sophisticated about screening resumes--and hence able to contact promising prospects in a more timely fashion (like, sometime before they retire). And, for obvious reasons (including a severe labor shortage in almost every industry), many employers are working feverishly to find quicker and more effective ways of recruiting over the Net.
While you're waiting, you have essentially two options. One is to get in touch with some of the headhunters who lately have been streamlining the process by pre-screening candidates for particular jobs, and then passing the best-qualified people directly on to the companies doing the hiring. k.force is one of these. Another is , a giant global search firm based in Cleveland.
Your other choice--and, say many career coaches, your best bet--is to zero in on a small number of companies that particularly interest you and contact them directly the old-fashioned way, by phone or letter or both. Or you could go to their Websites: Smart employers now are setting up interactive recruiting features on their sites, where candidates can anonymously answer questions about themselves and their ideal job without sending a resume at all. The companies then keep these folks updated, via e-mail, of news and job opportunities as they arise.
Hank Stringer, founder and president of Hire.com, an e-cruiting firm
based in Austin, Texas ("Silicon Gulch"), says that a targeted approach,
where you're in touch, one way or another, with just a few companies at
a time "puts you in control of the process. It allows you to focus." And
that, in turn, increases the chances that a company you like will focus
on you, too.