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Making Sure Your Resume Gets Through to Recruiters

The Internet has made recruiting more efficient in many ways. It used to be that you'd have to send your resume to a company by postal mail and wait for it to get routed to the right individual. Now, with e-mail, you're often able to send your resume directly to the decision maker. Overall this is a good thing. The challenge though is that you have competition: it's just as easy for other people to email the same hiring manager or recruiter. Most recruiters use spam filters in an attempt to keep offers for drugs, loans, etc. out of their inbox. Unfortunately, many spam filters make mistakes and can classify a legitimate resume you send to a recruiter as a spam message. In addition, even if your resume is not marked as spam, you are still probably competing for the recruiter's attention with maybe a hundred or more other resumes the recruiter received that day.

Avoiding the Spam Trap

There is no one single rule or maxim for keeping your resume from being misclassified as a spam message. Different spam filters work in different ways. However, there are some general things you can look out for. It's generally better to copy and paste your resume into the body of the message instead of attaching a document file. First, many recruiters are busy and won't take the time to open your document file when other resumes in their inbox are pasted right into the message. Secondly, some email filtering systems reject messages with documents attached for fears the document could be infected with a virus.

Although enthusiasm is generally better in a resume than using boring words and phrases, some words can set off spam filters. Words to avoid include: "free," "mortgage," and "trial." If you use exclamation points in your resume, do so sparingly and don't use more than one exclamation point in succession (e.g. writing "Great!" would be safer than "Great!!"). Also, don't use multiple colors in your emails to recruiters. It looks unprofessional and some email filters see colors as an indication of a spam message.

Some job seekers run their resumes through spam filters first before emailing to a recruiter. If you have a spam filter installed on your PC, this can be a simple step to take to increase the likelihood your resume is getting delivered.

If your email software has a "Read Receipt" feature which can alert you when a recipient has opened a message, you may be tempted to use it when sending your resume to recruiters. While it would be an effective way of knowing your message was delivered, we would not recommend it on the grounds that the recruiter could view it in a negative way. No one likes to be spied on, and most email programs will cause a warning message to show up if a read receipt will be generated.

Standing Out from the Crowd

Once you are reasonably sure your resume isn't getting dismissed by spam filters, the next step is to get the recruiter to want to open and read your resume. There are several things to keep in mind when persuing this goal. First, make sure you are sending your resume to someone it's relevant for. If the recruiter specializes in accounting, don't send them an engineering resume. Do a little research about the recruiter or employer first and come up with a subject line that is targeted to their situation. For example, if you were a programmer sending your resume to a pharmaceuticals company, you could use "C++ Programmer with Pharmaceutical Industry Experience" as your subject (assuming that you really did have experience in the industry). A subject like that will set you apart from the other resumes waiting in the recruiter's inbox.

After the recruiter has opened your email, you want to make sure they can quickly understand your capabilities by having an easy to read and powerfully written resume. For a thorough discussion of ways to improve your resumeArticle Search, read the section on resumes in the Job Search Handbook (

Article Tags: Spam Filters

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Scott Brown is the author of the Job Search Handbook ( As editor of the weekly newsletter on job searching, Scott has written many articles on the subject. He wrote the Job Search Handbook to provide job seekers with a complete yet easy to use guide to finding a job effectively.

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