In our last couple of blogs, we concentrated on how to write and construct cover letters and resume that help you stand out from the crowd. Often, you can send your documents by email or regular mail. However, many jobs are posted on company websites and searchable job boards databases that require you to upload your cover letter and resume. This changes the picture in several significant ways.
- It’s always important to link the content of your cover letter and resume to keywords in the job description. For online submissions, this practice becomes absolutely vital. That’s because employers often use keyword-searchable databases to scour documents for specific words—namely keywords—to judge how relevant each resume and cover letter is to the job opening.
- Formatting is important, too. Remove anything that can impede the readability of your text. For instance, bold and italic type, rule lines, bullets, centering text, and certain font choices can cause trouble. Stick to Arial, Courier, Lucinda, Tahoma, or Trebuchet. If you can, include your copy directly within the body of an email and this will help you avoid some of these barriers. Sometimes, it’s best to attach your documents to an email. However, all this doesn’t mean you can’t use other ways to help accentuate certain items in your resume and cover letter. For example, use carats instead of bullet points and upper case for emphasis. By the way, HTML documents can be a little fancier since they live on websites.
- For online submissions, it’s often best to convert your documents to a PDF, Microsoft Word, plain text, and/or an HTML version. However, most employers will mention the type of file they prefer and whether or not they accept links and attachments. That’s why it’s important to follow the instructions for each individual job board.
Your privacy. It’s important.
Most reputable job boards have features that let you protect your privacy and confidentiality by allowing you to control who sees your documents. In addition, make sure you find language on the job site stating your information won’t be shared without your consent. Some sites even sell your personal data to spammers. Once you have optimized your resume and cover letter for electronic submission, it’s easy to kick them out to multiple databases. There are differing opinions as to whether or not this practice of “spamming” is a good idea. (See Where to Post your Resume http://info.theladders.com/career-advice/where-post-resume-online.) Once you have landed a job, delete your posting from all sites so recruiters stop contacting you and your new employer doesn’t think you are still looking.
Help your documents rise to the top of the heap
In your resume, craft your statements in ways that show employers the benefits achieved by your successes. Your cover letter should focus on the employer and their specific requirements for the position. And again, both documents should be keyword driven.
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