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Q&A: Handling resumes, references can be tricky

By Claudia Buck, McClatchy Newspapers –

Posting a resume to an online job application can be trickier than it sounds.

Career expert Terri Carpenter of the Sacramento (Calif.) Employment & Training Agency offers answers to questions from readers.


QUESTION: When is the correct time to use letters of recommendation? Should I attach them with my application and resume, or should I bring them to the interview? I’m thinking of attaching them with my application, but that seems like a thick initial packet (cover letter, application, resume, recommendation letters) for employers to get through. I’m afraid they may find it to be too much.

ANSWER: Generally, do not send references or recommendation letters with your resume unless they have been specifically requested.

If you reach the interview stage and have not been asked for references, you may offer your list of references and recommendation letters.

Contacting references is time-consuming. Most employers will do some initial screening of candidates — by reviewing resumes and narrowing the candidate pool — before contacting references.


Q: When submitting a resume electronically, is it OK to send it by email or attach it in a PDF format? Will a PDF work with the “keyword” search that an employer’s tracking system might use?

A: First rule of thumb is to follow the employer’s instructions in submitting a resume. When emailing a resume electronically, attach the resume in both Microsoft Word and as a PDF.

Often, different software versions of Microsoft Word cannot be opened but a PDF can be opened by anyone using Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded free. By submitting your resume in both formats, you can be sure the employer can open and view it.

If a company is using an applicant tracking system, it generally wants you to post your resume into their online system. Often, you can cut and paste the sections from your resume directly into the applicant tracking system.

Again, you should always follow the company’s directions for posting your resume.

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