Writing Resusmes Right: A Decade Later

Article excerpt

Employers from two hundred ninety-nine companies responded to a survey on electronic resume practices. Nearly a third of the companies electronically scan resumes. The results indicate that electronic technology is influencing the way job seekers develop their resumes and market themselves to employers.

Meyers (1984) reported the frustration of students writing resumes because no specific guidelines existed to help them in the preparation of their documents. Over a decade later, students are still frustrated in preparing resumes, but the frustration may be resulting from a different source. The proliferation of electronic and electronically scanned resumes has confused student job seekers and seasoned professionals. The computer is significantly influencing how individuals undertake a job search and how they compose a resume (Quible, 1995). Today, career counselors must, in addition to their regular duties, be part reference librarian and Internet maven.

A decade ago, issues like bond selection (white or off-white), underlining and italicization, resume length, presentation order and general information versus specific information held debate. A decade later, these issues still stir discussion, but for a different reason-computer application. New questions are being raised as a result. "May I send a resume to a company via E-mail?" "Should a faxed resume be followed up by a hard copy sent through snail mail?" Career counselors need to be able to answer these kinds of questions. In order to address issues relating to new questions being asked, and to readdress the current relevance of old questions, a survey on electronic resume usage of employers who hire college graduates was conducted.

METHOD

A five-question survey was mailed to 1,200 employers registered with the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE-a clearinghouse for the exchange of information and data between universities and employers). Employers were asked if they electronically screened resumes. If they did, they were then asked whether they used their own database or a database service. Information was sought based on the system used: Document Scanned (each resume electronically scanned), Data Coded (relevant information entered into computerized databases), and Synonym-based (computerized expert system with key word library). Employers were also asked if they requested faxed-only resumes, and if they received and used resumes that had been sent via the Internet and World Wide Web. Lined spaces were provided at the end of the survey for employers to write (open-ended) comments on resume preparation. Results from this survey have implications for career counselors and confused job seekers.

RESULTS and DISCUSSION

Of the 299 responding companies (ranging in size from 14 to 320,000 employees, X(overscored) = 14,494 employees), 32% electronically scanned resumes. Of those companies, 64% used their own database. Forty-nine percent of the companies using their own database employed document scanning, while another 29% utilized a combination of document scanning, data coding, and synonym-based matching. Only 8% of the companies requested a resume by fax only. Sixty-one percent indicated they received and used resumes that had reached them via the Internet or World Wide Web.

Should a student send a resume to a company via E-mail? With 61% of the companies receiving and using resumes that had reached them via the Internet or Web, the answer appears to be yes. While not all companies use this technology, many megacompanies do. The average size of a company using the Internet or Web was 12,875 employees, compared to the average size of a company not using the Internet or Web, I5,888 employees. The implication is that it is not just the super large companies using the Internet/Web. Career counselors and student job seekers should not take for granted that small companies will not be up to speed technologically, and thus ignore this route of job application. …