1. Start with e-mail, follow up with paper.
Mehler says that the best way to deliver your résumé is via e-mail. "You're better off with e-mail, because at least you know it will get there," he says. He says that a paper résumé can still make a good impression, and that you should follow up your e-mail with a paper copy, at least for the jobs you really want. However, try to think like a recruiter, when you send the paper. This means sending a flat copy of your résumé and leaving out the staples. This makes it easier for a recruiter to run the résumé through a scanner. Use the fax as a last resort, as faxes do not come out clear and are difficult to scan.
2. Keep it simple.
Because your résumé will be scanned, it is important to keep your formatting simple. Mehler says to avoid italics, underlining, fancy or large fonts, and anything else that could be misread. If you are sending an electronic copy of your résumé, create a plain copy of your résumé that leaves out any bold terms or bullets and uses a standard typeface, such as Arial or Times New Roman. Plain résumés also work better on company or job search Web sites that require you to cut and paste your information.
3. It's all about key phrases.
The most important thing to remember is the importance of keywords and phrases, which are the tools by which software applications sift through résumés and determine whether to keep or discard them. The trick is tailoring your résumé to answer the company's job description or help wanted ad. "You have to understand how recruiters work," says Crispin. "They look for critical skills in the job description as must haves." Therefore, make sure your résumé includes those same keywords. Carefully read the description and write your résumé specifically for that position. "Every résumé has to be customized," says Mehler. "Plain vanilla is no good anymore."
4. Conduct a dry run.
After you have created your résumé, e-mail yourself and a friend a copy to see how it appears in the e-mail. This will give you the chance to fix the formatting and edit the document once more before you really hit the "send" button.
Crispin says that most systems allow recruiters to sort résumés by date received, and that many recruiters will limit their searches to the most recent résumés. Therefore, it pays to send an updated résumé or edit your profile once a month. "If your résumé has been in a company database for more than 30 days, you can be absolutely sure it will not be seen," he says. If you've posted your résumé to internet or industry specific job search sites, you should also consider updating it periodically
6. Remember the importance of employee referrals.
Crispin also points out that, even in a high-tech system, an employee referral is vital. "At least one quarter of all positions are now filled through employee referrals," he says. Many systems can pick out résumés or applications that indicate they have been referred by an employee. If you are filling out an online application and have to answer "no" to whether or not you have been referred, hold off on applying. "You can increase the likelihood of being called or interviewed by as much as 50 times by having an employee refer you."