An electronic resume is simply your resume in a format that can be sent over e-mail or the Internet. The advantage to having an electronic resume is simple–you can respond via e-mail or the Web to job openings posted all over the world. No faxing or mailing necessary.

If your resume is on a computer or floppy diskette, you already have it in electronic format; that’s not to say, however, that it’s in the most useful format. While it’s true that most e-mail systems can accommodate document attachments–be they in Word, WordPerfect, Quark or otherwise–it won’t be true that every person or organization to whom you’d like to send such a document is willing or able to receive it in that format. Plain text (also called ASCII Text or MS-DOS Text and recognized by its three letter file extension:.txt), however, is universally accessible and, in many cases, required.

To make your electronic resume universally accessible, follow these steps:

Using a standard word processing application, compose a resume as you normally would. Note that plain text format is very basic–it does not recognize formatting such as bullets, bold facing or italicized text. Consider using asterisks (*), plus symbols (+) and capital letters to achieve similar effects. In any case, make sure your resume is legible in the absence of these formatting features.

If the word processing application permits, set your margins at 0 and 65 characters (This means that your longest line, including spaces, exceeds 65 characters before wrapping to a new line.) This makes your resume easier to read and, just as importantly, safe to print.

Using the “Save” command (or, if you’re converting a document from another format, the “Save As…” command), save your document as an ASCII or MS-DOS Text document. Remember to append the .txt extension on to the file name, e.g. “resume.txt”
When sending an electronic resume, remember to:

Include a cover letter and be sure to note where you found the ad.

Send the resume and cover letter in one file. You can do this by writing or pasting your cover letter in the space before your resume. You can also send your cover letter as an e-mail message with your electronic resume as a file attachment.

Use the job title and/or job reference number as the subject of your message. Cite any relevant job numbers noted in the ad.

Follow up with an e-mail or phone call a week or so after you submit it.