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The Computer Generated Resume

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There is no longer any excuse for producing a resume with white-out erasures or sloppy typing. That’s the good news is that computer-generated resumes make editing a snap. They let you play around with the formatting to see exactly what looks right. They make it easy to write several resumes or custom-tailor resumes to specific jobs. They also let you generate countless “originals.” A computer printer even gives you cleaner copy if you decide to photo­copy your resume. And copying is so good these days that many people can’t tell whether a resume has been photocop­ied by the hundreds or produced by a printer.

Here are a few hints to help you develop a clean looking computer-generated resume:

  • Choose high-quality computer paper, at least 20-pound weight, and be sure it tears cleanly.
  • Choose a clear, clean typeface. The test of this is how well the typeface photocopies. If it runs together or looks muddy, look for another font.
  • Use a standard typeface. Hard-to-read typefaces such
    as Old English or Script are taboo on a resume.
  • Many printers now print letter-quality; make sure yours is one of them. Absolutely unacceptable are (now mostly outdated) printers with funny letters, such as g’s whose tails don’t hang below the line of type.
  • Although desktop publishing programs are fun to play with, most of what they offer is too gimmicky for a Bullets are helpful; dingbats and other little illustrative type devices are silly and amateurish.

GOING ONLINE WITH YOUR RESUME

It’s now possible to put your resume online, where potentially, at least, it can reach prospective employers around the world.
To put a resume online, you submit it to a database. There are two kinds of resume database services: free and fee. Free (or sometimes very inexpensive) services are usually affiliated with professional forums, also sometimes called bulletin boards. These online support groups exist for nearly every profession. There are, for example, forums for broadcast journalists, airline pilots, nurses, and veterinarians. Just name a profession, and there’s probably an online forum for it.

Forums are groups of like-minded, or in this case like-professional, people who talk to one another online via personal computers and modems. Most professional forums operate a resume service for persons in their field, and these are free. You can use online help to find out how to go about submitting yours. Even if a forum doesn’t operate a resume service, you can still float yours out there on the electronic wires and hope the right person sees it.

The computer generated resume
The computer generated resume

To access a forum, you need a computer with a telephone modem, and you must belong to a general database service, such as CompuServe, Prodigy, or America Online.

Professional resume databanks have come into existence in the past five years, and they can be a good way to circu­late your resume—for a fee. It’s important, though, to know what they can—and cannot—do for you.

There are several large resume databases operating now, and many local or restricted ones. For example, some cities and regions now operate job databases. Universities operate them. Some even cater to specific ethnic groups. HispanData is a specialized database, for example, operating out of Santa Fe, New Mexico, for Hispanic professionals.

Resume databases seem to work best for those with tech­nical skills, professionals, and persons with several years of work experience. Some databanks restrict their services to college graduates, but even the ones that don’t say most of the employers who use their services are looking for employ­ees with advanced education and at least two or three years’ experience. Many of the jobs listed are technical, because as one sales representative at a large databank observed, “If they could find the employee they’re looking for in the newspa­per, it wouldn’t be worth it to come to us.” Several organiza­tions tried to run resume databanks for new graduates and inexperienced workers, but these are all defunct.

Costs for submitting your resume vary from $35 to $75 a year.

The computer generated resume
The computer generated resume

There is usually no charge to peruse the databank looking for someone to hire. Some charge an annual fee, while others charge a larger one-time fee and a smaller fee thereafter—in hopes, of course, that you’ll opt to enlist perpetually.

The resume services either scan in your resume or scan in information about you and then keep hard copies of your resume on hand to fill requests. The better resume services send regular statements letting you know how many requests there have been to see your resume so you can judge how effectively the service is working for you.

Before sending your money, though, there are several important questions you should ask, to see whether a resume service is right for you. The most important is to find out whether a resume bank gets requests from companies in your field. Resume databanks are constantly changing, and beyond that, each one has its strong and weak points. One may get lots of requests, for example, from the insurance industry, while another may do very little business in that area.

Also find out if they serve the division you’re interested in. For example, if you’re a lab technician looking for work, you may be excited to hear that three major pharmaceutical companies are using the resume databank you’re considering. But you won’t be quite so excited if you learn that only the legal division has signed on.

The computer generated resume
The computer generated resume

In reality, though it’s usually the other way around: Companies tend to use online services to find highly technical jobs in areas like engineering and biotechnology, although there’s also heavy use for sales and marketing jobs.

The large resume databanks usually have about 20,000 resumes online at any one time, while some good, but smaller, ones may have as few as 4500. Some users say large is good because it attracts more employers, while other people complain that it’s too easy to get lost in a huge database.

Large databases also are more likely to be international than small ones. One electrical engineer I know was thrilled to get a job nibble after several months of being out of work. He was less thrilled when he realized it was from Hong Kong, while he and his family were happily ensconced in Chicago. If you aren’t interested in relocating, it may be best to stick with a local resume database.

Also important is how many corporate clients a database has. A good databank should be willing to name its major clients for you (most have around 700), especially in the area where you’re looking, and it should also be willing to tell you how many searches it typically conducts every week.

Another important issue is confidentiality. Few of us want our present boss to find out we’re job hunting by having a copy of our resume land on her desk. Most databases take precautions to make sure this doesn’t happen. Some input the company or companies that you don’t want to receive your resume, while others block out your name on the resume.

But technology isn’t foolproof—not yet, anyway—and with this method, your resume could still land on the wrong desk. That’s why it’s best, for the moment, to go with a service with some human safeguards as well. Some services call you be­fore releasing your resume to anyone. One databank asks clients to write a capsule summary, which doesn’t list their names, and this is what corporate clients see first.

The computer generated resume
The computer generated resume

Finally, don’t neglect your other contacts just because you’ve signed on with a database. It can take a few months before you get any nibbles, and in the meantime, you’ll want to pursue all other avenues to employment.

What to Ask Before You Sign On

Before you sign up with any electronic resume service, it’s important to call them and run through this basic list of questions:

  • How many companies use your service?
  • How many job searches do you do a week? (This is actually a better gauge of success than the number of companies signed on to use the system.)
  • Do you do a lot of business with companies in (name your field)?
  • What areas do you specialize in? (This is another way of getting the same information, but it never hurts to double-check.)
  • What steps do you take to protect your clients’ confi­dentiality?
  • Are there any special requirements for listing a resume?
  • What do I need to know about resume formatting be­fore submitting mine? (Can you submit it via modem or must you mail it?)
  • How much does the service cost?
  • How long will your resume be listed?
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