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Choosing the Best Electronic Resume Format

Creating a professional, up-to-date electronic resume is one of the first steps to take when you start your job search.

Once you have created your resume, you have a variety of options for how to share it. Although you will still need a hard copy version for interviews and job fairs, you need an electronic version you can email, fax, post online, upload to a job board or attach to your online application.

Just as you may have several versions of your resume tailored to specific job types or titles, you may also need to determine the appropriate electronic format to use when submitting your resume.

Some of the more common electronic formats include the following:

  • Microsoft Word (or similar product) — Word is a business standard and the format of your resume will be maintained so the reader should see your resume the way you sent it.
  • PDF — When you email a PDF version of your resume, the employer will see the resume just as you sent it. Nobody can change your resume and you have eliminated the risk of transferring a virus.
  • HTML — A Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML, resume can be an email attachment or posted on a website. The reader can view the attachment without downloading it.
  • Plain text — Plain text with no special effects is often the required resume format for posting on a job board or pasting into an online application because it is easier for the company to include the resume in a searchable database.

Other important tips to consider include the following:

  • Follow instructions. Send your resume in the format requested by the employer or job board.
  • Send your resume to yourself before you send it to an employer to make sure you can review what the employer will see.

Use keywords throughout your resume no matter what resume format you choose. More employers are using searchable databases to store the resumes they receive and use software to search for specific keywords related to their job vacancies. Your resume may be overlooked if you do not use relevant keywords.

Stress your accomplishments, not your job duties, and tie your accomplishments to keywords using concrete, measurable successes. Show how you contributed, how you used your initiative and how you brought value to each position. Sell yourself as the best candidate for the position.

Choosing the right electronic resume format when submitting your resume increases your chances of a hiring manager reviewing your resume and contacting you for an interview. With hiring managers receiving hundreds of resumes for every job opening, it is important to follow directions, have a polished resume and send your resume in a format that will get through the system.

If you have questions about resume formats or any other aspect of your job search, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 to speak to a SECO career coach or use the Live Chat feature on MySECO for additional guidance. You can also visit the Find a Job section of the Career Connections lifecycle stage of MySECO for more information.

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