Some of The Rules About Resumes Have Changed

Not too many years ago, most employers preferred a snail-mailed or faxed resume over one submitted via e-mail. Today, however, it is a different story. According to an article in the Freelance Work Exchange, only 4% of employers said they preferred to receive resumes by e-mail in 1999. But by 2000 the number had skyrocketed to 48% — and it keeps getting higher. If you’re going to submit your resume via e-mail, the best way to do it is to cut-and-paste it into the body of your message instead of including it as an attachment.

Attachments are too often filed and lost instead of printed and read. Also, a potential employer might delete your attachment rather than risk getting a virus by downloading it. Another thing to keep in mind is that an e-mailed resume must be formatted like a plain-text document. Boldface, italics, underlining, and color will be lost during the cut-and-paste process.

Other than that, the basic rules for writing an effective resume remain the same. Here, then, are a few tips from the AWAI Resume Writing Program:

1. Remember the No. 1 rule to follow whenever you’re making a pitch — whether your goal is to sell a product or to sell yourself: Know your prospect. In this case, your prospect is your potential client/employer. Be he a CEO or Mr. Perkins at the corner bakery, what he wants to know is what YOU can do for HIM. And in order to do a good job explaining that, you have to put yourself in his shoes and think the way he thinks.

2. Keep your job objective focused. Avoid listing a number of different interests. If you have too many, you cannot be considered an expert in any of them.

3. Use bullets to help zero in on your accomplishments and achievements — and use specific numbers and details to add to your credibility. These are the types of things a prospective client/employer wants to see: You increased a company’s sales by 53%. You authored 5 published articles in ABC magazine on hidden hot spots throughout Europe. You increased a renewal rate by 37%.

4. Make sure your contact information (name, address, phone/fax/e-mail numbers) is at the top of the page.

5. List your most impressive (relevant) accomplishments first.

6. If you are trying to make a career change and you feel that you don’t have enough experience to create an impressive resume, don’t worry about it. Experience isn’t a “must” to land a job. However, that doesn’t mean you should try to fill up your resume with other irrelevant things. Instead, you might want to structure it this way: Objective Summary of Experience Accomplishments Professional Background Education References

7. Never, EVER put the following things on your resume: your salary expectations personal data (age, sex, marital status, etc.) cutesy gimmicks your photo your reasons for leaving your previous job

(Ed. Note: The above essay was adapted from an article that appeared in The Golden Thread, the free, weekly e-zine that AWAI produces for its copywriting students. For information on the AWAI copywriting course, click on