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Jack Causa

When Snail Mail Just Won't Do

Making digital resumes work for you.

August 21, 2008
Sponsored by The Mergis Group

by Jack Causa, senior vice president and group executive, The Mergis Group

It's well-known that the Internet has fundamentally changed the way employers recruit candidates and the way workers seek out new job opportunities. What is often overlooked, though, is a subtle implication of this paradigm shift in recruiting: the importance of a digital resume in the digital era.

Years ago, the classified section of your local newspaper would reach accounting professionals seeking a new job within a limited geographic region. Today, the Internet allows job seekers from all over the U.S. to find and apply for open jobs that are thousands of miles away. One recent study found that 34 percent of newly placed workers found their jobs on an Internet job board.

This dramatic change in employment recruiting has shifted the traditional competition among job seekers away from creating the most compelling printed resume to pop out of an envelope. The emphasis is now being placed on how to produce the most dynamic digital resume to launch at the click of a mouse. Moreover, with so many employers now relying on computer programs to screen resumes through the use of keyword technology, accounting professionals must know how to make their resumes stand out from the scores of others that will be electronically submitted for the same open positions.

Here are some tips to make your digital resume work for you:

  1. Do some intelligence gathering
    Start by scanning job ads, job descriptions and company Web sites in order to create a list of which skills employers need most often. This will give you an idea of the specific words — typically nouns and noun phrases — that employers have identified as important in reviewing their applicants' resumes.
  2. Choose your text wisely
    Computers are likely to be sorting through your resume and determining whether it features the right keywords they set up for the open position they're seeking to fill. Use this characteristic of the digital era to your advantage and insert text in the resume that matches the specific skill descriptions you believe they're seeking.
  3. Pay attention to the fundamentals
    It sounds cliché, but the most common blunders in resumes are still the ones your high school English teacher told you to avoid: typos, grammatical errors, too much or too little detail, cluttered layout, etc. Don't make the mistake of thinking this new medium for sending your resume to employers gives you an excuse to be any less professional or precise with your writing.
  4. Send a message, not an attachment
    Unless specifically instructed otherwise, it's a good idea to create a plain-text version of your resume that you can quickly cut and paste into the body of an email message. It may seem easier to send a Word document as an attachment to a "cover" e-mail message, but many employers no longer accept resumes this way due to computer viruses that are often embedded in email attachments.
  5. Use a catchy subject line
    Another challenge that is unique to the era of digital resumes is the need to have a subject line to your e-mail that is likely to catch the reader's attention. Rather than using predictable words like "Applicant Resume" or "Candidate Profile" it might be a good idea to use subject lines such as "Experienced Corporate Auditor" or "Talented Tax Accountant" to stand out to prospective employers.

Resume writing has always been an important component of an accounting professional's job search, but the paradigm shift brought on by Internet-based recruiting forces candidates to adapt by understanding how to create a winning digital resume. By exploiting some of the unique characteristics of this new format and sticking to some of the fundamentals of the traditional format, you can maximize your chances of rising to the top of the digital stack.

For more information, visit The Mergis Group.

Jack Causa, CPA, is Senior Vice President and Group Executive at The Mergis Group. Causa is responsible for the management and operations of the Mergis Group, a division of Spherion that provides specialty professional recruiting and placement services across a range of professional disciplines, including finance and accounting, information technology, engineering, sales and marketing, legal and human resources. Causa has more than 25 years of experience in the professional recruiting industry and joins Spherion from Callaway Partners, a professional services firm, where he served as the partner responsible for the company's staff augmentation business. Prior to that position, Causa held leadership roles at Jefferson Wells, where he was a managing director and Kforce, where he was president of finance and accounting. He began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers.