371st jobsearch question on AskMetafilter this month!
November 19, 2005 2:27 PM   Subscribe

When companies or organizations say they accept resumes via email or regular mail, does it make a difference which one you use?

This is inspired by a specific listing for a non-profit organization that is not in a tech field. And I'm neurotic.
posted by dilettante to Work & Money (13 answers total)
Best answer: Why not send both?
posted by interrobang at 2:34 PM on November 19, 2005

When I was looking for a job out of college I sent my resume by regular mail whenever that was an option. As it turns out, the job I got came from the regular mail resume submission. Even though this was only 2.5 years ago, I think electronic submission has probably become the default at this point. However, I would make a distinction between submitting your resume as an attachment to an email (preferably to an actual person, not a generic email address) and filling out an web-based resume form. In my experience, those web-based forms were a waste of time.
posted by mullacc at 2:38 PM on November 19, 2005

In my experience, those web-based forms were a waste of time.

Agreed. I went through some resumes for a position at my office, and all those web-based resumes from Monster.com I couldn't stand to look at, they were formatted so poorly.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:09 PM on November 19, 2005 [1 favorite]

I am not a recruiter (no acronym, sorry), but I've heard that depending on the volume of resumes received, some times sending them as an attachment can knock you out of the running because their indexing and search tools can't handle docs and pdfs. I always included a nicely formatted attachment for human eyes, and the text of my resume pasted into the body of the email for the computers.
posted by cosmonaught at 3:49 PM on November 19, 2005

Best answer: Do both. Always go for overkill with everything where applying for a job is concerned.
posted by xammerboy at 3:52 PM on November 19, 2005

In my office, any inquiries or resumes that arrive via email get printed out by an admin and handed to the staffing person as a paper copy. So it may not matter a whole lot.

but if you ahve the option, I would use every opportunity to differentiate my application (well, not every. no perfume/colors/etc) but if you can get a resume on good quality stock, printed on a really good laser printer, it's gotta count for something. Versus a cheapo bond printout with the MS Outlook mail header on the top.
posted by misterbrandt at 3:57 PM on November 19, 2005

Response by poster: Sending both sounds like a good idea. I'd claim that I was worried about overkill and looking too desperate, but really sometimes I have fits of idiocy.
posted by dilettante at 4:45 PM on November 19, 2005

It's strongly suspected in the Seattle area that Amazon's web application form is a black hole.
posted by agropyron at 5:02 PM on November 19, 2005

Speaking of overkill, and quality stock, I always snail mail my resume in a full size envelope, meaning an envelope big enough to take the 8.5x11 sheet flat, without folding. If nothing else, it makes it stand out in their mailbox.
posted by intermod at 5:43 PM on November 19, 2005

Nothing beats having your resume hand-delivered to HR by a friend inside the company. Seriously. At Microsoft, a recommendation from a developer got you an automatic interview. A resume in response to an ad went into a slush-pile - 20,000/month, I think, back in the early '90s.

If you can make a connection with someone at the company, do it. Otherwise, email and snail mail.
posted by zanni at 4:20 AM on November 20, 2005

E-mailing a resume says "Look, I am smart enough and computer literate enough to send email." Please note that your choice of email address can telegraph information about you to a prospective employer. Think carefully about whether you want to paste in your information (good), send a Word document (better), or a PDF of your resume (best!).

Snail mailing a resume says "I am serious enough about this position to spend a buck on a couple nice sheets of paper for resume and coverletter plus a stamp." I really like Intermod's suggestion of mailing in a flat envelope.

So it boils down to this: what do you want your resume to tell people about you? Before you send any resume at all, do yourself a favor and double check spelling, grammar, and your phone number.
posted by ilsa at 12:21 PM on November 20, 2005

I'm currently an HR admin assistant - I can tell you that here, (smallish Govt. Dept) at least, your nice bond paper/bound/perfumed resume is going to be photocopied for up to six people. So electronically submitted applications are very welcome. Your spiral binding is going to look very shabby ripped at the edges, and I am strongly tempted to just heave your every-page-in-a-plastic-envelope-folder (yes, people do this) out the window.
I'm not sure how small the nonprofit office is so YMMV, but a few more points:

1. Applying via email does imply you are intelligent enough to use a computer. But if your Word document has superfluous line-breaks and empty pages you can look a fool. Check a print-out as well as the spellcheck, current phone number, etc.

2. Sending in two applications makes me check both - why are you sending a snail mail copy? Did you stuff up your electronic application? No, both copies are identical. What a pain in the ass and waste of my time. One goes in the bin. It implies that you are either scatterbrained or that you think we are. So you get a black mark from me.

3. A good thing to do is call to check if we have recieved your application (or call beforehand to check if we have any necessary application forms), and spend the two minutes on the phone sounding sane, charming, and confident. A really bad thing to do is to call and sound Batshit Insane, Surly, and Neurotic. But so many people do the latter. I always, always let the person doing first cull know that "that Dilettante guy, called on Tuesday - he sounded Batshit Insane, and my god was he rude. I think he's a bit, you know, sub-normal". On the other hand, I'm as likely to say "Hey, that dilettante guy called on Tuesday and sounded really nice, etc". There, in a small way, is your friend on the inside.

4. Always send your resume in an envelope big enough for it to lie flat! Think how awful it looks all creased and folded. Think of the cranky admin assistant on a friday afternoon with a jammed photocopier and 135 applications to make six photocopies of. Think of the children ....
posted by Catch at 2:05 PM on November 20, 2005

Response by poster: Update: I emailed on the Sunday evening before Thanksgiving week. The next morning, I had an acknowledgement that the resume had been received, so I didn't mail the hard copy after all. Phone interview was today, in person interview next week.

Thanks for the replies!
posted by dilettante at 1:05 PM on December 2, 2005

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