Subject line: Hire me!


National Report - Sending a resume via e-mail can be as easy as clicking a button. But so can deleting it.

NATIONAL REPORT — Sending a resume via e-mail can be as easy as clicking a button. But so can deleting it.

Research shows an increasing number of employers now use the Web for recruiting and require electronic resumes to cut down on time and paperwork. The result: The traditional paper trail of resumes is fizzing out. For job seekers, that means the rules have changed. There's less time to grab an employer's attention, and the pressure to create a gripping but professional e-resume can be intense. The ultimate goal is to have what's essentially an advertisement opened, saved and read.

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That's according to career professionals who have examined how best to write, design and send electronic resumes. For veterinarians entering the job market, there are pitfalls to avoid and clear strategies to adopt. Landing the ideal job could come down to a few keystrokes. First and foremost, include the job title you're applying for in the subject line, they say. Here are some other tips:

When possible, establish human contact.

This always improves the chances a resume gets attention. Sending a resume on a whim means the likelihood that people will respond is pretty slim, says Amanda Nell, University of Missouri program director, Student Employment Services.

"What happens if I get a resume, and I'm not hiring? I'm just going to say, 'Thanks, we're not hiring right now,' and then I'm done with you," says Kelley Bishop, executive director of Michigan State University's Career Services.

Informal interviews should come first, Nell adds.

"This is a chance to contact someone in your field in a position you want. Students can say: 'I'm interested in an opportunity here. Can I forward my resume?' It is a great way of networking and getting in the door."

Write a cover e-mail.

Despite electronic mail's modern delivery system, tradition still calls for a cover letter to draw in the recipient. But avoid including a cover letter as an attachment. It should be written in the initial e-mail, experts suggest.

"It is awkward and annoying to have a brief e-mail and then have to open an attachment to get the real letter," says Kevan Flaming, DVM, PhD and Iowa State University instructional development specialist. "A well-written cover letter, in this case, cover e-mail, will make the reader want to read the resume. If you have created that interest, then opening the attachment will not be viewed as a chore."

Send as an attachment.

Many employers mistrust attached resumes for fear of opening the door to hackers and computer viruses. Job seekers are advised to cut and paste resumes directly to the e-mail pane.

But in veterinary medicine, employers still expect to view resumes as attachments, experts say. This serves to keep the resume's design intact, Flaming explains.

"The .pdf file is an excellent choice because it works on nearly all common computer platforms and maintains the formatting of the document," he says.

The e-mail cover letter should encourage the recipient to contact the sender if there is a problem opening the attachment.

But if a resume is included in an e-mail's body, keep the formatting simple and use plain text editor or Microsoft Word. "It is better to have a simple, readable document than a jumbled-up glob of broken lines and variable indents," Flaming says.

Appearance matters.

"In general, list more recent activities first. Use the same font, bullet style, format and punctuation throughout your resume. Do not use fonts that are too small, and try to vary where your lines end so that the resume has white space and is easier to read," says Dr. Lisa Freeman, a professor at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and leader of the school's Accelerated Clinical Excellence Program. "Your future boss will notice and elements like these speak to your attention to detail."

Keep it professional.

Maintain business-level communication, Nell says.

"Even though e-mails are date-stamped, include a date, return address, a person's name and title and a formal salutation. This is business correspondence," she says.

"You want to be familiar with a potential employer, but you don't want to lose the appropriate formal etiquette of being a candidate," Bishop adds.

Do your homework.

Act like you want the job, experts say, by explaining to the employer your reason for applying.

"Have some sort of rationale for the questions: 'Why did you approach us? What do you know about us?' This is going to be much more appealing to someone who may become a potential employer than: 'Here's my resume, I'm a fantastic person, and I want to be hired,' " Bishop says.

Focus on the employer's needs, not yours.

Communicate an understanding for the potential employer's practice or business, what an ideal staff member might be and fill in the blanks. That's how to get the employer's attention, Bishop says.

"You represent a solution to some problem they need solved," he says. "If you make your application solely about you and about how great you are, it makes it more difficult for them to know if you'd be a good fit for the practice."

Review, review, review.

Create an e-mail safeguard by sending the resume to your own account to see how it looks, Nell suggests.

"Software spelling checkers and grammar checkers are valuable, but you still need to proofread carefully," Flaming adds. "Because we all tend to become blind to mistakes in documents we have been working repeatedly on, I strongly recommend that you get someone else to proof your work."

Reading the document backward also works to help slow a reader down and focus on small details.

Follow up.

"We encourage people in their final paragraph to go over what the steps they take will be," says Nell, who suggests detailing when a future e-mail will be sent or telephone call placed.

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