Friday, February 10, 2012

E-Mailing Your Resume

Every nonprofit job application you find is going to ask you to e-mail your resume, but they don't always tell you how to e-mail it.  This begs the question: Is it better to send your resume as an attachment or paste it into the e-mail body?

It's hard to find much agreement on this question.  Some job search experts will tell you that an attachment is more professional, while others will caution that some e-mail programs will block all incoming attachments.  Personally, I think attachments are the best choice.  If an employer doesn't want your resume to be an attachment, they will more than likely mention it in the job application.

If you do plan to put your resume in the body of the e-mail, there are some guidelines you should follow.  First, make sure you start your message off with a brief introduction.  This should be no more than two to three paragraphs.  It's a little bit jarring to start an e-mail off with your resume and no explanation of who you are and why you are communicating with them.  Think of it as a shorter version of a cover letter.

Once you are done with your introduction, indicate that you have pasted your resume below your name and contact information.  Concerned with how to format the text?  Here are some suggestions that will make your resume look professional and keep it out of the spam folder:
  • Some e-mail programs are only able to receive plain-text e-mail, so avoid any fancy formatting.
  • Keep your lines short -- between 45 and 60 characters.
  • Use the space bar for indenting, not tab.
  • Don't use exclamation points are all caps.  These are two criteria that spam filters check.
  • Avoid the use of bold or italic tags.  Use asterisks or rows of equal signs for your headings instead.


  1. As an executive search consultant, I far prefer having the resume as an attachment to a carefully crafted cover letter. We prefer Word documents over PDFs as we generally reformat candidate information using the resume as the springboard. The cover letter can also be an attachment and it should provide detail on how the candidate's background and experience fit the position description requirements. We do not like having to go back to otherwise qualified candidates to ask for a resume.

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