I work at Bronx Community College as an adjunct librarian. Even though I love this job, it is unfortunately part-time. Therefore, I am always on the prowl for full-time gigs; recently, I used a database (Academic Search Premier) to obtain an article on what the preferences of employers are in terms of receiving resumes and cover letters.
I often feel that I am sending my resume out into an administrative void, or that there are incompetent secretaries and jaded mailroom associates that don't want my poor resume to get into the right hands. But, I have never actually queried a database to see what research has been done to find the preferences of employers. The other day, though, I found an article that speaks to what these preference might be.
The article is titled, "Employer Preferences for Resumes and Cover Letters" and it was written by Nancy M. Schullery, Linda Ickes, and Stephen E. Schullery. The article can be found in the June 2009 issue of Business Communications Quarterly between pages 163-176. Not only is the article comprehensively informative, it delineates what those specific preferences are for the benefit of potential employees sending out resumes.
The data that informs this article was culled from "Company representatives at our career fairs" (Western and Eastern Michigan) and was prompted by the refusal of many company representatives to "accept a printed resume while speaking with students" and their preference for potential employees to proceed directly to the "company Web sites" to upload their resumes and cover letters (pg. 163). The introduction to this article is littered with dialogue about scannable resumes and the use of keywords. There is also a smattering of 90's data about employer preference to whet our appetites for what is coming next and show us where we've been.
For example, "A 1998 survey of Fortune 500 companies found that only 19.7% accepted resumes by email, whereas 98% accepted resumes fax" (pg. 165) But, honestly, when is the last time you sent a fax: 1998? I mean the change has happened over the course of 11 years and yet the standard nowadays is surely sending and receiving resumes by email. It's interesting to note however that before the fax there was only snail mail and before snail mail there were uh pigeons, I guess.
In terms of findings, the researchers found that "A large majority (71%) of employers prefer standard chronological resumes, with another 21% preferring them in text format. Five percent of the companies have no preference or want their own application" (pg. 170). It is interesting that even though the technology has created things like scannable resume readers, a lot of people find little use for them. In addition, "Email is the most preferred modality (46%), with 41% preferring the resume pasted into the body of the email. The second-most prefered mnodality is entry at the company's web site (38%), with 34% preferring the resume copied in it's entirety and 4% preferring entry in sections" (pg. 172).
Moreover, "The standard chronological style of resume is the 'the standard' irrespective of company size, location, or industry, or the job function of the hiring contact person" (pg. 174). And, "Electronic delivery of resumes appears largely to have replaced paper. Eighty-four percent prefer delivery either by email or by company Web site, and only 7% want paper" (pg. 174). However, because the motivation for the researchers involved knowing employer preferences so that they could teach their business classes what these preferences were, the researchers had some interesting caveats to add. First, "construction of a basic printable resume probably remains a wise investment of time" (pg. 174) Also, "a complete, organized, and well-phrased inventory of an applicant's skills and experiences would be convenient for multiple potential delivery venues, including submission by email as either attachment or text" (pg. 174).
This has implications for internet security because due to their hard work people are now more liable to open just any old attachment, regardless of its possible equine virus capabilities. In other words, since internet security has been ramped up and bettered, it has allowed for other technologies, like scannable resume readers to go the way of the dinosaur. Last, despite all this technology, the researchers who wrote this article suggest always having a paper copy that you could always press into the palm of a potential employer "in the event of a chance encounter" (pg. 147).
A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.