How to email a resume

Submitting a resume to an employer via e-mail requires a little thought if you are going to avoid some of the more common pitfalls. Do you send your resume in the body of an e-mail or as an attachment? If you are sending an attachment, what format should it be in? Perhaps you want to take advantage of the web and demonstrate your online savvy by serving your resume straight off the Internet?

E-mailing Your Resume in the body of an E-mail

You may have spent hours on Word or WordPerfect nicely formatting your resume, but when you send it in the body of an e-mail, guess what? All your hard work gets turned into crazy ampersands, dollar signs and *@*&**$.

How do you avoid this?

Prepare a special copy of your resume for inclusion in the body of an e-mail. Create your resume in a plain text (ASCII) format with an application like Windows’ WordPad or Notepad. If you prefer to use your favorite Word Processor (Word, Works, WordPerfect), they’ll also allow you to save your resume to plain text. No matter what operating system or e-mail client application the employer is using, they’ll be able to read your resume if it’s in text form.

While including your resume in the body of an e-mail gives it near guaranteed accessibility, there is the problem of formatting. Somehow or other, e-mails invariably look worse once they’ve gone through the wringer known as the Internet. A perfectly justified e-mail message with bolding and italics becomes a series of jagged text edges and lost formatting.

Appearance is very important in a resume and although potential employers realize the nature of e-mail is disorganized when it comes to style, they still like to see a nice looking resume. It’s the nature of employers.

How do you achieve both goals – universal readability and presentability? First, keep the resume simple. Align all the text to the left of the page. Don’t make it more complicated than that. Forget tab spaces. Forget bolding and italicizing. Use upper-case letters and line breaks to create headings rather than differing sizes of fonts.

Choose a basic font that exists on everyone’s machine: Times Roman, Arial or Courier are common examples. Make sure no line exceeds 72 characters; after that it may break awkwardly and create an odd pattern of sentences on down to the bottom of the resume.

Finally, e-mail yourself a copy of your resume and proof-read it. Does it make sense? Good, start sending it out to companies.

E-mailing Your Resume as an Attachment

What about sending your resume as an attachment and avoiding the trouble of converting your resume to a text file?

Here are some of the disadvantages associated with e-mailing your resume as an attachment:

  1. Opening an attachment can be time-consuming if you are an employer answering hundreds of applications a day.
  2. Attachments are sometimes corrupted by the time an employer tries opening the file.
  3. Attachments are sometimes created in formats the employer cannot open (i.e. Works, Wordstar).

Ever wonder how many employers never got back to you because they couldn’t/wouldn’t open your resume? Scary thought, isn’t it? All those missed opportunities.

So, should you resist sending your beautifully formatted Word document altogether? The answer is no. Include your resume in the body of your e-mail for easy reference but also attach a properly formatted version for later use if the employer wishes to pursue you as a potential employee.

Some advice on creating attachments might also be useful here. Try to create your attachment in a format you know a large number of people will be able to access. Word is good for most businesses, while WordPerfect is ideal only if you are sending your resume to a legal firm. Try to avoid creating and attaching your resume as MS Works files or Wordstar, etc. You may use these programs to create basic .txt or .doc files though, which anyone should be able to view.

Some people attach their resumes as HTML files. This has the advantage of being almost as universal as a text or document file because most businesses have a browser on their workstations. HTML files are restricted in their formatting though and do not always copy nicely to other text based programs, especially those used as resume databases by companies.

Serving Your Resume Off The Web

You want to show employers you are web savvy so you take your resume and turn it into a website. Now you send prospective employers an e-mail, directing them to your site, “If you want to see my resume, click here.”

Big mistake. What busy employer is going to take the time to connect to the Internet to download the resume of a person they know nearly nothing about?

Do not expect an employer to do your hard work for you. If you send an employer an e-mail directing them to your resume, you are committing a gross breach of business etiquette (not to be confused with netiquette).

What you are doing is the offline equivalent of mailing an employer a letter which says, “If you want to see my resume, send a stamped addressed envelope to such and such address and I’ll mail it back to you.”

Not all employers have easy access to the web. Many companies prohibit internal use of the web owing to productivity issues. Other times, your vaunted webpage will come back “Not Found” or your page may take forever to load. Perhaps your resume is linked to other pages on your site with less than savory material. Even if the potential employer does visit your site, copying your resume as HTML can be a pain (forget about formatting, it’s every word for itself).

In most cases, the employer will probably not bother with your resume at all.

It is, however, acceptable to include a link to your online resume as long as you also send a text copy with the e-mail. Indeed, your web resume might well contain more information or samples of your work than it would be possible or desirable to include in a normal resume.

We hope this article on e-mailing resumes was useful.

ASCII text resume in body of e-mail = Essential

Formatted attachment = Desirable in addition to text format

Web Resume = Ideal for expanding on resume and offering samples of work, etc. De Rigeur for budding webmasters.