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Online Job Application FAQ

Before applying online, check out these online job application FAQs.

Barbara Reinhold

June 05, 2007

Online Job Application FAQ
Q: I want to apply for a job online, should I send my resume in an attachment? I want to show off the bold fonts and bullets. What do you think?
A: You are right and wrong at the same time. Resumes DO look better when they get sent as attachments, but increasingly employers are asking applicants not to send their resumes as attachments because of the danger of viruses. Online job search experts are advising that some companies automatically delete all e-mail with attachments. So you may find that your beautiful resume never gets read. Double check the job listing for specific instructions about the preferred method of application. If there are none, it's best to err on the side of caution and submit your resume in plain text, in the body of the email. Q: What can I do to make up for the lack of those great bullets and fonts if I decide to send my resume embedded in an email rather than as an attachment?

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A: Here are some tips on setting up an ASCII resume:
1) Set your margins so that you have 6.5 inches of text displayed. This will keep your text from rolling onto the next line.
2) Use a 12 point font such as Courier.

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3) If you must fancy it up, you can use asterisks, O's, plusses, (0,*,+)etc. without fearing that they will be converted into question marks, as sometimes happens with bullets. Convert headings like "EXPERIENCE" into all caps so they stand out. But go easy, email resumes are often a "just the facts" exercise, so concentrate on the persuasive quality of your words rather than the way they look. Q: I want to include my Web site on my resume. Do you think this is a good idea?
A: It depends entirely upon what's in it and the nature of the position. I've heard of people who have put the URL of a personal homepage on their resume and inadvertently revealed details that COULDN'T have impressed a future employer. The same thing happens with answering machines. When you apply for a job and list your number, forget the cute or funny message on your answering machine. Big mistake! If you want a Web page to be part of your portfolio for a job that requires Internet expertise, include it. But please -- check it over for "audience appropriateness." Q: What about a writing sample? Can I just go into my online documents and send a paper I did well on as an attachment?
A: Not really, because the potential for transmitting viruses exists for all attachments. You can, however, convert a word processing document to an ASCII file the same way you did for your resume and know that people will be willing to read it. In terms of writing samples, try to get an article published in a local paper or trade journal. If you are going to send a paper, pick a few choice paragraphs and provide an introductory note of explanation to the employer. Q: I want to customize my resume for two very different jobs with the same employer. How will I be able to do that if I submit one resume electronically?
A: Depending on the computer program that supports the job listings you are pursuing, your second resume may be screened out to prevent duplication. On the other hand, some programs screen by the skills related to the specific job, so your resume may get to the right person. It's hard to know. So customization is not even the issue here. At this point we recommend sending two different versions of your resume, customized for each job and make it clear you are applying for two different positions. Q: I'm so glad that employers are gathering resumes online now, looking at the content of people's experience rather than at the style of their resumes. It's a relief not to sweat a typo here and there.
A: Are you kidding? Do you know what we call a person who submits an electronic resume with a typo in it? Unemployed. The standards are no more lax. If anything, they are more strict than ever. This article originally appeared on

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