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Rant: Getting Your Resume Read, Or Why Office 2007 Is Not Your Friend

Your marketing message can't be effective if your prospect can't read it. A slightly off-topic rant on Office 2007: Leading a growing paid search agency that’s hiring regularly, many resumes flow into my in-box each week. My current hiring pet peeve is receiving resumes in Office 2007 format. These are files which have the ".docx" extension. I can’t open these resumes with a click, so into the trash they typically go, unconsidered. Apologies, but true. Now, I happen to have Vista and Office ’07 at home (ugh), but I do not have these at work. Our IT folks are holding our firm on XP and Office 2003 as long as we can hold out. On the OS side, Vista isn’t baked enough, our IT gurus believe. On the apps side, I fear the productivity slowdown of switching to Office 2007, when for the first week or so our amazing crew of power Excel users won’t be able to find anything anymore. (If you're not using 2007 yet: all the Excel menus changed. A lot. You may pull out your hair just finding pivot tables in Excel ’07, or trying to format several graphs in parallel. Argh.) Job seekers: hiring managers are moving fast. Hiring managers looking for a reason to zap your resume. You win when you make life easier for the hiring manager. Sending a resume just in “.docx” is almost rude, in my opinion. Seeing just a “.docx” resume makes me wonder if the candidate is out-of-touch (because she/he doesn’t realize Office 2007 isn’t broadly adopted yet), or not technically savvy (because she/he doesn’t understand file types), or perhaps self-absorbed (because she/he assumes that everyone is using the latest-and-greatest out of Redmond, like him/her). Truly, I don't spend much time on this wondering, as usually I’ve moved on. My nickel suggestion: send a resume in multiple formats.
  • Plain text, in-line in the email below your sig, is always good. (I also like to see a resume well-presented in plain ascii – that suggests the candidate will be able to compose good-looking text emails.)
  • PDF attachment is also good -- it shows the candidate cares enough to control the page layout and typography. (Suggestion: if you use PDF, don’t PDF an ugly resume – ugh.)
  • Or use Word if you want, but be smart and use Word 2003 (“.doc”, not “.docx”). 2007 Word can read 2003 Word seamlessly, but not the reverse, so use 2003.
Just avoid “.docx” as a sole resume format. As with any marketing message, you win when you make life easier for your prospect.
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