,   |  February 26, 2013

Should I send send a hard copy of my resume?

I often get asked, “should I send a hard copy of my resume by mail?” or “should I drop off a hard copy of my resume at the office?”  If you asked a recruiter this question 15 years ago, the answer would likely be yes.  The recruiter might go through a giant stack of resumes, writing notes, sorting into yes/no piles and so on.  Today, recruiting usually doesn’t happen that way… and receiving or reviewing resumes in hard copy is pretty “old school”.

So the short answer answer is no, don’t bother sending a hard copy of your resume – and here’s why…

1. Applicant Tracking Systems are how recruiters stay organized

With the rise of “Applicant Tracking Systems” (affectionately known as an ATS) resume screening is mostly done digitally.  The majority of the career websites you visit will be linked to such a system.  When you click apply, you’ll leave the site with the listings and start inputting your info (and resume) into a database.  On the other end, the recruiter will access this database and be left with a batch of candidates for each job to sort through quickly and redistribute into different categories (“yes”, “no”, “maybe”, “yes for another type of job”, etc.) This type of database is “the bible” and also allows your information to be shared across a pretty big recruiting team.

2. If your resume is passed along in hard copy, one person has it – if it’s passed digitally, many people have it

By applying online (instead of sending a hard copy of your resume) you are actually sharing your resume with more than one recruiter (and maybe even multiple hiring managers) and also making it searchable.  Maybe you’re not the right fit for the role you applied for, but months or even years from the date of your application, you may get a call saying your background looks interesting because someone on the team searched for a keyword that is on your resume.

3. You’re helping recruiters stay organized.

Something that was a constant goal of mine in the heavy recruiting days was to minimize the mounds of paper on my desk.  Many more junior recruiters (who are probably the ones doing that first screen) feel this way too.  Honestly, it’s annoying to get loads of mail every day (and some people get a lot more creative with what they send… think t-shirts, cookies, etc.) on top of everything else on your desk.

So don’t send or drop off a hard copy resume unless requested (but definitely bring some to an interview!)  The act of doing this is somewhat outdated and can be seen as not following protocol.  However, the sentiment behind it is a good one… to get noticed, and get your resume read.  So if you are truly qualified for a role and want to increase your chances, take a more modern approach:

1. Email one of the recruiters or those in the department directly with your resume attached – It’s not too difficult to figure out email naming conventions for most companies (and when in doubt you can just try a few combos and the wrong ones will bounce back).

2. Pick up the phone – most corporate offices have their general number published online.   When you get to the operator or the receptionist, ask for the person you are looking for or the recruiting department (many will direct you back to the careers website when they find out what you’re calling about, but worth a shot).

3. Leverage linkedin and pay a few dollars to send an inmail to the person you are looking to contact.  Unless they change their linkedin settings, an inmail actually gets to people in the form of an email.  They will (at a minimum) click through to your linkedin profile and quickly evaluate if your background is a fit.

These approaches truly create the same (or better odds) of your resume being seen and not winding up in a trash bin somewhere… and hey, you can save a few trees in the process!

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