When working with clients, I provide the final resume in three formats. Word .doc, PDF and plain text. I tell them plain text is for cutting and pasting into online applications. The PDF ensures clear printing with no printer or software issues and the Word version is the language of business so use that version to submit resumes. (As Office 2007 takes hold, a slow conversion, I’ll provide the .docx version of Word as well.)
A few years ago, I worked with a young woman aspiring to move to Costa Rica and teach. As we discussed her submission process, we realized we weren’t sure of the technical capabilities or software availabilities of some of the more remote areas where she’d be applying.
Take it from someone who works in a software-driven world, different versions of Word, print driver settings, hardware age, Microsoft Works (ewwww) can all play a hand in jumbling documents. Since “most” people don’t think about software as the problem behind the jumbled mess on the screen, that jumble creates the first impression of you.
We came up with this strategy to address possible electronic submission issues. I’ve been sharing it with clients ever since and today, you get to hear it. The thing is, you don’t have to be applying in foreign lands to run into technical difficulties. So a little effort on your part can make the difference between an interview and the delete key. As a boss used to tell me, “The best defense in life is a good offense.”
(I preface this with, if there are specific submission instructions, they are your guide. Otherwise …)
If you want to be super efficient and the Word .doc version and PDF are identical, attach them both to email. In the body of the email, explain the reasons behind including different versions of the same document so they know it was intentional and why. Don’t assume people know or will take the time to figure it out. (Besides, we all know what assuming does …) Tell them. Plus it’s an opportunity to sell your solution-driven approach to things without using the words “solution-driven” to tell them. You showed them with actions. (What’re our mantras? “Sell, don’t tell” and “It’s all them.”)
This simple statement explains why you’re attaching two formats of the same document: (or something to this effect in your own words …)
“I’ve attached my resume in both Word and PDF format to avoid any software compatibility or print-driver difficulties. Please open the version best suited to your system.”
Think about it. You’ve identified a potential difficulty and offered a feasible resolution. AND you’re protecting yourself. You’ve doubled the chance of reaching your audience. Believe me. A busy hiring authority isn’t going to argue with documents that don’t open or are illegible. If she has a quick solution, she’ll use it. Otherwise. Delete! and there goes your chance.
Some may disagree and pass this off as electronic clutter. Fine, but I tell my clients to serve your customers (the hiring authority) while protecting your sale (the interview). If you, the candidate, tell the receiver “docs are provided for their convenience,” you’ve also spread some “warm-fuzzies” — someone they don’t even know helped them be more efficient. Wow! And they’re not even employed here … yet.
“Little things” can make a big impact. In this challenging market, it’s best to stack the odds in your favor however and whenever you can.
By the way, if you’re tweaking keywords and titles to fit job requirements, BRAVO! You can create a PDF document from your newly tweaked Word document using one of many of the free downloads out there. Google will help you find them. I’ve used www.primopdf.com for years and Microsoft Office 2007 has a PDF creation feature as well.