Finding the Hidden Treasure in a Job Hunt

How the electronic resumé can bring you job-hunting success.

By Libby Carter

Current economic conditions have made job-hunting a necessary art form. Potential employees constantly must create new ways in which to differentiate themselves in the market. Since job hunting has become such a long, pain-staking process, one might compare it to a treasure hunt for the most valuable prize—a job. In this case, the one who finds the treasure is the individual who takes a new, fresh approach to accomplishing the task at hand. What does it take to find that “treasured” job?

How can you approach the job market in a different, more efficient manner? The key to differentiating yourself comes in the ways in which you approach potential employers. These individuals hold your possible career in their hands, and it is your responsibility as the job-hunter to be unique. An effective way to accomplish this is to use an electronic resumé, which can accentuate your skills and allow you to stand above the competition. This is how you find the treasure.

Above all else, we live in a technological age where soon there won’t be anything we can’t accomplish on the Internet. Job-hunting is no different. To remain competitive in the job market, you must adapt your approach to the job search (Krannich, 1996). This is where the electronic resumé comes in handy. According to a study by Elgin and Chapham (2004) of Oklahoma State University, “electronic resumé” applicants are viewed as more intelligent, technologically advanced, and possessing better overall qualifications.”

When comparing the differences between conventional and electronic resumés—the differences lie in the formatting. Conventional resumés are printed on paper, whereas electronic resumés are entirely virtual. In terms of delivery, conventional resumés are delivered through the mail or in person, and electronic resumes are scanned and/or uploaded onto a database or sent via e-mail. When addressing evaluation, an actual person evaluates conventional resumés every time, while electronic resumés are evaluated by both electronic resources, such as databases, and by actual individuals (Quible, 1995).

The key to proper electronic resumé development centers on the formatting of the document. First, you should use a basic sans serif font with a 10- to 14-point font size. Avoid condensing your font. For example, do not use columns (Quible, 1995). Use clean, simple paper. This is necessary should you scan the document and save it that way. This is an “e-document,” so make sure you include your e-mail address in the address header (Quible, 1998). Furthermore, be mindful of margins—don’t extend them too far. And, be sure to focus on “key words.”

Key words are the defining point in any good electronic resumé. In developing your list of key words, simply come up with a list of words that define your qualifications. Key word lists have become critical to the entire process of electronic resumé development since the introduction of scanner software used by large-scale employers. This software provides an easy, cheap way for companies to sift through resumés before they go to the inboxes of potential employers. To prevent unnecessary elimination during the job hunt, key words provide synthesized information that is easy for the various scanner softwares to analyze. The “list of key words” should be listed on the resumé after the applicant’s name and address.

Zane Quible, in his 1995 study of electronic resumés, determined several elements that should be addressed through the use of key words, if applicable. These elements include:

  • Job titles held by the applicant
  • Names of job-related task completed by the applicant
  • Skills or knowledge possessed by the applicant
  • Degrees(s) held
  • Certifications (if applicable)
  • Degree granting institution
  • Class rank
  • Interpersonal skills or traits

There are both indirect and direct methods in using an electronic resumé. The direct approach involves directly e-mailing or uploading the document to your potential employer. In terms of the indirect approach, you can upload your resume to a resumé database company—this is the approach in which key words are essential. Also you can upload your resume to job-hunting Websites such as CareerBuilder or Monster, for example (Becze, 2008).

Much of the formatting for an electronic resumé remains similar to that of a conventional one. It is essential to include your e-mail on an electronic resume due to its electronic quality. Your e-mail is your address along the Internet superhighway, and your e-mail address is the best way for potential employers to contact you once they have viewed your resume electronically. Maintaining a consistent medium of contact reduces the potential for missing out on a job opportunity due to miscommunication. The obvious difference in an electronic resumé comes from the section of “key words that are critical in maximizing the power of your electronic resumé.

In using an electronic resumé, it is key to remember that this form of job hunting is not a replacement for the use of in-person networking. After issuing electronic resumés, it is key to continually follow up with potential employers through e-mail, telephone, or in-person visits. Don’t get lost in the Internet—always make sure your electronic resume triggers your face when an employer is sifting through these resumés.

One of the key advantages of the electronic resumé is that is provides a cheaper alternative to conventional resumés. Instead of needing expensive resumé paper and printer ink, an electronic resumé provides a way of reaching employers without the excessive cost. All you need to develop and submit electronic resumés is the use of a good computer or word processor and access to the Internet.

So, as you sit here reading this article, I hope you become inspired to begin the task of developing the perfect electronic resumé—a tool in your job-hunting arsenal that will prove helpful as you differentiate yourself from the competition. Start now, and edit often. It will take time and dedication to prefect this tool, but the results will be well worth all of the effort. Get started. Your key to that “treasure” is only a mouse click away.


Becze, E. (2008). Format your resuméfor electronic viewing. ONS Connect23(5), 30.

Elgin, P. D., & Clapham, M. M. (2004). Attributes associated with the submission of electronic versus paper resumés. Computers in human behavior20(4), 535-549, 20(4), 535-549.

Krannich, R.L. (1996). The new resumé for the new millennium. Black Collegian, 27(1 ), 48-53.

Quible, Z. K. (1998). Electronic resumés: an important new research tool. Business Communication Quarterly74(2), 79-82.

Quible, Z. K. (1995). Electronic resumés: their time is coming. Business Communication Quarterly58(3), 5-9.

Libby Carter is a Masters of Agricultural Leadership student and graduate assistant, Georgia 4-H Foundation.

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