Zap It to Me: Submitting Your Resume Electronically

Zap It to Me: Submitting Your Resume Electronically

There are do’s and don’ts for emailing your resume to a recruiter or potential employer:


  • First of all, your resume must be error free and easy to read. Use a large, businesslike font with plenty of white space. Proofread your resume, paying special attention to names, dates, and phone numbers. Do this at least twice after you spell check it and before you send it out. Don’t use too many fancy gimmicks, which may not translate well on someone else’s computer system. For your recipients with systems that search your resume by key words, fancy fonts or formatting may not be recognized. If you use bullets, make them your basic dots or squares, no other icons, please.

  • Don’t cut and paste your resume into the body of an email text, as you may lose your formatting. Rather, save your resume and cover letter as separate PDF documents and attach them to a transmittal email. Although almost everyone uses Word, an added advantage of the PDF format is that it doesn’t matter which word processing system you use to create the documents, or what kind of computer operating system the recipient uses to open them, they remain the same.  Additionally, many recipients want to save only your resume in their system, not your cover letter and almost certainly not the transmittal email, thus, sending separate email attachments facilitates that process.

  • Don’t make the mistake of thinking that, because you choose to use email, you can omit a proper cover letter. Rather, write the letter as if you plan to send it via snail mail. Address it to a specific person and state the position for which you wish to be considered. All other rules and suggestions for the content of standard cover letters apply. (See: The Compleat Cover Letter)

  • In the subject line, state the position you seek, such as “litigation associate candidate for Los Angeles office”. Don’t try to be clever, such as something like “your search is over!”  Also, don't type “re:” before the subject line to make it look as if you are replying to an earlier email from your recipient. Likewise, don’t mark it “urgent”. While it may be urgent to you, your submission is all in a day’s work for the recruiter or potential employer. Let your qualifications, not gimmicks, set you apart from your competition.

  • Is your email address appropriate? An informal email address that is fine for your friends, chat rooms, or personal ads may not convey the professional image you wish to present to a potential employer. You might choose to create a separate email account for job search purposes. Use some form of your name for easy identification.

  • If you’re emailing your resume to a number of addresses, don’t list them all in the “To” section of your email. It is poor form for your recipients to see all the others to whom you submitted your resume. You want each target employer to think that you and they are the one and only perfect match.  Therefore, send each submission separately or, at the very least, put your own address in the “To” section, and “Bcc” all of your intended recipients, so that the list doesn’t show when your email is received and opened. That trick may be a dead give-away, however, that you’re mass emailing your resume. If you’re customizing each submission, as you should be doing, this isn’t an issue.

Web Portals


Beyond emailing, large employers increasingly use the Internet for direct resume submissions. You must access the law firm’s or corporation’s portal, usually in the Careers section of their website. Complete the form, and upload your resume as directed. Usually, these portals use resume parsing software that fills in some of the blanks automatically. Check to make sure that this function was completed accurately and make corrections where necessary. You also can upload your cover letter, written and formatted as if you were sending it via snail mail, in the appropriate space.

If your submission is successful, you’ll receive an email acknowledging receipt. Your information goes directly to the organization’s recruiting staff. Many of these web portals also send you a rejection letter. If you’re granted an interview, you usually hear from a human.

It’s totally acceptable, and quite often preferred, to submit resumes electronically. It significantly streamlines and speeds up the process for you, the candidate, as well as for the recruiter and potential employer.

Valerie Fontaine
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