4 Tips on How to Email a Resume

As an Executive Recruiter for 8+ years, I can speak on this topic with some authority. While it might seem like a simple task, knowing how to email a resume correctly is very important. We all know that first impressions are everything. Yet, not a day goes by that I get a sloppy presentation from what seems to be a desperate job seeker.

My goal in this blog post is to not just talk about the technical mechanics of attaching a resume document to a new email. Hopefully, you know how to do that. My goal is to share branding and presentation tips that can help you get a better response.

How to Email a Resume

How to email a resume1. Send your resume in a .doc file – It is extrememly important that you email your resume in a typical Word document. This is important for several reasons. Primarily because it is the most common file format for every situation. Sending the latest .docx file or even .pdf is not a good idea.

Some resume databases do not handle these documents well and they are not able to be “keyword searched.” Also, if the hiring manager does not have the latest Microsoft Office they cannot open your document without downloading an add-on. I have known some hiring managers to just delete resumes that show up in a .docx file.

Recruiters do not like .pdf files because they do not have the ability to edit them. Recruiters who represent you will want to place their logo on the resume and remove your contact info. Also, they may want to make “quick edits” on your resume since they have a good understanding of what is acceptable and not acceptable on a resume.

2. Do not copy and paste your generic cover letter in the body of the email – I will admit that the cover letter is more likely to get read if it is in the body of the email instead of a separate attachment. Still, it appears to the end user that not a lot of thought was put into the email when it looks and feels like a cover letter in the body of the email. You are better off re-typing the cover letter to have a more personal feel. Also, do not go beyond two paragraphs (about the length of an average email).

3. Do not combine the cover letter and resume into one document – Recruiters and hiring managers do not like it when they open up a resume and see a cover letter first. It is confusing and most will just scroll past to find the resume.

4. Never send a “read receipt” – Do this to your detriment. In fact, I can’t think of one reason why it is ever a good idea to do a read receipt. A read receipt is an email feature that notifies the sender that their email has been opened. This will aggrevate the end user and they will feel tricked.

The above 4 tips are absolutely important when it comes to learning how to email a resume. Take some thought before you hit send and be sure that you are not making any of the above mistakes.

    Jonathan has been blogging since 2009 and is still in awe that the Creator of the Universe desires to have a relationship with him. His passions include spending time with his kids, reading, March Madness, surprise get-a-way trips with his wife, and watching funny YouTube videos.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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    One thought on “4 Tips on How to Email a Resume

    1. Jonathan,

      I disagree with your advice, but then  that’s why there’s chocolate and vanilla. 

      On your first item, I generally recommend sending a resume as a PDF file; it’s crisper, easy to search for keywords, and as a recruiter, I’ve found it  less likely to become altered when read by others and (so far) universally accepted.   Although I redact a candidate’s contact info from his/her resume and replace it with my own, so as to control the flow of information, even when I receive a resume in DOC or DOCX format, I still generally send them in PDF.  I recommend candidates do the same.  As to the argument that the old Word format is the most common, and therefore most easily accessible, I would say that any dinosaur these days that doesn’t already have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader can download it for free.  Almost anyone reading resumes would surely have it as likely as they would have Word.  Though I do agree, many smaller firms following the recession, may not have upgraded to either Word 2007 or 2010. 

      I also disagree with your statement about not putting the text of your cover letter in the body of the email.  You said yourself that it’s more likely to get read. While I agree with keeping the cover letter short and to the point, there are generally features in a cover letter that the candidate wants to impact the reader’s mindset before reading the resume.  I’ve found that when attaching the cover letter to an email as a separate document, the reader’s first choice is to go directly to the resume.  (I know I do.)  Worse, sometimes, especially without having had the benefit to explain something in the resume, say a short term job, for example, once the resume is read, the cover letter may not be read at all.  I do suggest, if a candidate is sending out several resumes and is doing a copy and paste to save time, that he keeps a very simple template with some blanks that when filled in will tailor the letter to fit the specific job, company and reader.  Yes, it takes a few extra seconds to do it, but the return on a more personalized cover letter is exponential. 

      I do agree on not combining the cover letter and resume as a single document for the reasons you identified.

      But I do not agree with you again, at least universally, on the “read receipt” issue.  That has to be an individual decision.  When a candidate is sending out resumes en masse, read receipts can often be a time waster when they start coming back.  Okay, I agree; who cares if the last 117 resumes were all read?  But when sending out a resume at the request of a hiring manager or a personal contact within a firm, I don’t think anyone feels “tricked” by being asked to verify that they’re read the communique.  I personally respect a person who is detail-oriented enough and focused on getting his or her next job that they want to make sure their follow-up activity is in place.  As an alternative to the “read receipt,” at least when using Outlook for your email, a “delivery receipt” might be as effective. 

      There is one other thing I might mention.  You tell your readers to take some thought before hitting send.  I agree.  One of the things I’ve found useful, again at least when using Outlook for your email, is to set up a rule that prevents emails from being sent immediately.  My 2-minute delay rule has saved me some awkward moments, like realizing after I’ve sent the email that the hiring manager’s name is Horowitz, and not Horwitz.