Technology glitches aside, there’s a great deal of uncertainty when you email a résumé off for an open position. Mainly, you are worried whether you got the person’s (assuming it is the right person) attention, it made it to their inbox, and then there’s the worry whether it went into a spam filter by accident.
The truth is that you SHOULD be very worried.
Unfortunately, while you can’t control some of these factors, there are some things you can do to be as proactive as possible about sending your résumé via email.
The first place to start, however, is your email body itself and how you compose it. If you think that writing a short note to the recipient indicating that the enclosed résumé is to be considered for a specific position, and that this constitutes the same function of a cover letter, you are dead wrong.
Recruiters, hiring managers and human resource managers all decry how dismissive email messages responding to job openings have become, and really see this is a viable indicator of how serious, professional and interested a candidate is in a particular position. Either you should make your email a cover letter itself in the body, or write a short note indicating the following:
“Attached is my résumé and cover letter for __________ position announced on ___________. I have included two versions—a Word file (________.doc) and a .pdf (_________.pdf) versions. Please use the .pdf version for printing so it will print correctly on your printer. I will also send a separate email with my resume copied and pasted into the body of the email, just in case there are any issues with file incompatibility. Due to the sometimes unreliable nature of the Internet, I would greatly appreciate a quick reply from you to acknowledge your receipt of this email. Thank you in advance for your assistance.”
Also referenced in the note are the document types. As we all know, there are a myriad of different versions of Microsoft Word out there, and not every system is compatible. A good trick is to save the document to the older version if you are on Office 2007, just in case. Additionally, finding one of the freeware versions of PDF converters online will enable you to lock in all formatting into the PDF format, eliminating any variations of how Word might read the file. Finally, another thing to be aware of is that if you are submitting your résumé via the web, you might need to convert it to ASCII format, which strips out most of the formatting that is found in Word. It does require a little bit of time to reformat it so it isn’t one very long paragraph with no breaks, which is how it looks if you simply cut and paste your Word document into the online application systems.
Finally, given the fact there are things that impede your email making it to the employer’s inbox, you should always follow up. Most job seekers are looking so far forward for the next job opening and putting together the next application that they don’t follow up. Recently, I was teaching a class on job search strategies, and a woman raised her hand and said that she had followed up on an email that she had sent to a prospective employer, and was told that the message was never received. In the short time on the phone she had with the employer, the woman made a quick pitch of her background, and was told to re-send the documents, which she did. It resulted in her getting an interview.
Remember that EVERYTHING that you send to an employer does not guarantee that the right person received it. It is up to you to follow up in a polite, respectful and non-demanding way. Additionally, every aspect of your correspondence to employers is being evaluated, so make sure you utilize it in a way that gives you the best representation possible. It is a measure of your professionalism, writing skills and how you project yourself!