All effective recruiters will view hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes during the course of each and every day. Only a few and hopefully only those worth serious consideration are ever moved from electronic form to paper. Resumes are submitted via websites, applicant tracking systems, job boards and email – rarely on paper. As a job seeker, you must be aware of how these electronic copies of your resume are displayed not on the page, but on the screen.
These few and simple resume tips will allow you to control the presentation of your background and ensure that it remains professional, uncluttered and as you envisioned it.
Always first attempt to submit your resume as a PDF file. Once an obscure, closed file format, PDFs can now be exported directly from any application on a Mac and all major office suites on a PC. Unless specifically requested, send a PDF copy of your resume and password protect it from changes and editing. Review that PDF after exporting to make sure the process completed successfully and to give one final read for errors. This can be your read-only, fixed electronic copy for all submissions. Not all, but many job boards and recruiters specifically request a Word document in place of a PDF. If this is the case, follow the next few suggestions as well to have a clean word copy.
Once you’ve proofread and edited your resume for grammar and spelling, remove the colored squiggles. After, and only after, you are 100% sure the grammar and spelling on your resume are impeccable, it’s important to clean these false positive errors from your document. Proper nouns like school names, certain softwares and even specific technical terms won’t be in Word’s default dictionary. To remove the green and red lines under suspected spelling and grammatical errors, right click on any of them and select “Spelling” or “Grammar.” In the next dialog box, select “Options” at bottom left. The last two items in this preferences pane will be “Hide spelling/grammar errors in this document only.” Tick these two boxes and click OK – watch the ugly lines disappear.
Remove any reviewing/editing features – don’t just hide them. For years, MS Word has given users the ability to maintain edits and notes to a particular document, something resume writers are particularly apt to use as they modify their backgrounds for specific positions. In a worst case scenario, resumes are submitted full of strikethroughs, comment bubbles and other markups. Also embarrassing is giving the hiring manager an ability to see your past edits, mistakes, lower GPAs and more that you’d prefer to have stricken from the record. To avoid these situations, keep two saved copies of your Word resume – one scrubbed for submittal and another that preserves the tracking, should you desire. To remove all tracking features from your document, click the “Review” tab in the toolbar, click on “Track Changes” and ensure that the selection is not highlighted.
Don’t keep information in headers/footers besides page numbers. Header and footer content in a Word document appears greyed out and opaque in the application, despite printing in the same tone as the document’s body. Since nearly all resumes are viewed electronically, save the reader from eye strain and keep everything in the body except for automatically generated page numbers in your footer, should you choose to include them.
Avoid over italicized fonts. At many firms, it’s been a while since their monitors have seen a substantial upgrade. Older monitors lack the resolution and sharpness to clearly display fancier scripts like Garamond and Book Antiqua. Stick to the standard choices and remain traditional.
Ask a few people to open your document as a last check. Since no two computers are the same, it’s a fair bet that out of three or four, at least one might display your document differently. Be it a past version of Word or Office for OS X, there is always the chance that one application may not like your edits. Email your resume to a few friends or family members and ask them to open it on their home computer to check for compatibility.
The extra fifteen minutes a jobseeker spends following these simple instructions will ensure that his or her electronic resume presents the formal, professional image they want to convey as a job seeker. Maintaining the properly edited PDF and Word versions of your CV will prevent you from being disqualified in this highly competitive market because of a simple technical error.