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Home  > Article

How to Post Your Resume Online

By Sarah Auerbach

Set aside your box of cream-colored resume-grade bond paper. A well-written, beautifully laid out, and carefully printed resume is no longer the key to a successful job hunt.

Some companies won't even consider you for a position if you don't post your resume online.
To put your best foot forward in the electronic age, you have to learn how to write an electronic resume. That means ditching action verbs in favor of keyword nouns, trading pretty fonts in for Courier, and taking out tabs to put in spaces.

Why post online?

Most employers, especially in high tech and related industries, are looking for candidates online. Some companies won't even consider you for a given position if you don't post your resume online. They view a faxed resume as a sign that you're not comfortable with email, computers, or the Web. On the positive side, posting your resume online will get your resume in the door and on the right desk as quickly and efficiently as possible. And you don't have to limit yourself to one page!

Where you can post online
These days, there are online resume banks just about everywhere you look. There are also sites that are essentially databases of resumes -- making your search for the right site a little easier (check out The Riley Guide). Most resume databases invite job seekers to post resumes for free, so avoid sites that charge a fee--there's no reason to pay for something you can get for free elsewhere.

How to post a resume online
Most of the time, when you post a resume online, you fill out several fields, such as name, address, phone number, email address. Then you paste the bulk of your resume into a big scrolling text box. Most sites require you to paste only plain text, also called "ASCII" (or American Standard Code for Information Interchange). Some allow you to paste HTML, which can make for a spiffier-looking end product if you know what you're doing.

Posting a text resume
When you're pasting plain text into a text box, make sure to follow these guidelines:
  1. Don't use any special characters or symbols, such as smart quotes or mathematical symbols.
  2. Left justify everything in your resume.
  3. If you must indent, don't use tabs; use spaces instead.
  4. Put in a hard break at the end of every line; don't let words wrap to the next line.
  5. Use Courier, if possible, and no other fonts.
  6. Save your document as a text file (plain text, RTF, or ASCII text).
  7. Spell check your resume before you save it. Proofread it after you paste it.

Posting an HTML resume
If possible, write the HTML yourself using a simple text editor like Notepad. HTML editors sometimes introduce tags that aren't recognized by resume databases. Make sure you put the tag at the beginning of your document and the tag at the end of your document. If you include hyperlinks or images in your document, make sure you include the whole name of the link--, not just experience/overview. This is called using "absolute," rather than "relative," references.

How to write an online resume
You've probably been told a million times to use good action verbs in your printed resume. Throw that advice out when you go to write your online resume. The most important thing you can do for yourself when you're writing a resume that you plan to post online is to use really good keywords--most of which are nouns, not verbs. Know the keywords that go with your industry. Also brainstorm as many synonyms as possible. For example, if you're interested in marketing, make sure you include "advertising, PR, public relations, communications, marcom" and other words that will help your resume pop up in an online search. Think like your future employer!

Don't lie or exaggerate
Even though keywords are, well, key, you don't want to misuse them. If you create multiple online resumes using different keywords, you're going to get caught--and employers will feel as if you don't know what you want to do with your career. Also, don't put in skills you don't have, particularly technical skills. While you may know just a little bit of Java, that doesn't necessary mean you should include that keyword in your resume.

Remember, your employer can view resume sites just like anyone else, so you are at risk for having your job search exposed. Every resume site has a different policy about how long your resume will stay posted once it's up. Make sure you know how long it is, and take it down as soon as you've found a new job. Also, resumes have a way of staying on the Web for much longer than they were ever intended to be there. It's possible that a resume that you posted a long time ago could come back to haunt you, even once you're safely at your new job.

To protect yourself when posting your resume online, Fortune magazine offered this advice: date your resume (just in case it lands on your boss' desk two years from now); include a legend that forbids unauthorized transmission by headhunters; keep your resume off Usenet groups; and always ask a site's policy on distributing resumes before you post.

Good luck!

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