On naming the Resume and application package

By , January 10, 2014 6:55 pm


The best way to have a Resume is to be good enough that employers will have to hunt you without asking for your Resume. Most of us mortals are not that good.

I wrote a guide on writing Resume when I was a college student. One thing I didn’t put in there: how to name the file.

This is how I name my Resume: Application-InvestmentManager-TaiTran-MyPhoneNumber-JobRef001.pdf

Why the pain?

1. The recruiter knows what the file is for without opening the file.

2. The recruiter can easily pick up the phone and call me without opening the file to find the contact. The only reason I don’t put my email address in the file name is the length.

3. It starts with an "A" and has a higher chance of being put somewhere closer to the top of the file list in the folder, assuming most folders are sorted alphabetically. Of course, AndyResume.doc would still beat my file, but I haven’t figured out how to push it further up without exsufflication.

4. No space. If the file is uploaded to the web or intranet, chance is that the spaces will be converted to "%20" on older browsers and my file name is messed up. No space.

5. No underscore, hyphen instead. I found that hot keys like Ctrl+arrow work on hyphen but skip underscore.

The best Resume file name I’ve received reads: Resume_Company Name_Position_FamilyName MiddleName GivenName.doc

The worst: Resume.doc

A typical recruiter may receive a thousand files named "Resume.doc" per day and I bet many "Resume.doc"‘s get overwritten by other files and no-one bothers whose is whose.

Another thing is the content of the file. My file has a Cover Letter, a two-page Resume and all relevant supporting documents, all put in sequence and converted to one PDF file. One. Single. File. Unless specified otherwise by the recruiter, of course. This makes sure no information gets lost in translation.

And why PDF? To minimize the chance the file format is jeopardized by the software installed on the recruiter’s machine, and to minimize the probability the file gets edited by someone else.

Many less experienced job hunters name their files this way:

Cover Letter – Name.doc, Resume – Name.doc

This wouldn’t work for recruiters because (1) the two files are supposed to be together but in the recruiter’s folder they will be separated by a million files like DennisResume.doc, MyPicture.jpg (nobody cares whose is "My" by the way) etc. (2) if your files have the slightest chance of getting lost in folders together with a billion desperate applications, they will.

Finally, if I have to send multiple files, I name my files like these:

01. InvestmentManager-TaiTran-MyPhoneNumber-Resume.pdf

02. InvestmentManager-TaiTran-MyPhoneNumber-MostRelevantSupportingDocument.pdf

03. InvestmentManager-TaiTran-MyPhoneNumber-SecondMostRelevantSupportingDocument.pdf

And put them in a folder named: Application-InvestmentManager-TaiTran-MyPhoneNumber-JobRef001

Then zip the folder to Application-InvestmentManager-TaiTran-MyPhoneNumber-JobRef001.zip

No rar.

I then make sure the zip file size is less than 10Mb.

Then I’ll do the following:

1. Email the zip file. The content of the email is a summary of my cover letter.

2. Upload the zip file to a file sharing service, get the download link, and email the link in case the recipient’s email system blocks heavy files, explaining why I’m doing that.

3. Upload the folder or single file to Google Docs and share them with the recipient.

4. Call the recipient to confirm receipt.

Again, why all the pain. Because I’m not good enough to hunt jobs underprepared.

From your experience, what could I have done better?

Image source: Dilbert

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