A reader writes:
I have a job but have been looking for a change for about six months. I've gotten absolutely no responses, (except a few polite "no thanks" E-mails) to E-mailed and online application submissions.
Now, all other things being equal, assuming my resume doesn't suck and I am applying for relevant jobs that I am qualified for, do you think it is a better idea to snail mail my resume and cover letter instead of E-mailing?
I just have this feeling that it might be easier to get in front of the hiring manager's eyes that way.
It actually might make it harder.
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These days, most hiring managers vastly prefer an electronic version of your resume. In fact, a lot of companies can't even get your resume into their applicant tracking system unless you E-mail it.
Even when an employer does accept snail-mailed resumes, providing only a hard copy makes it harder for the employer to share it with the various decision-makers. I'll frequently E-mail a candidate's resume to a colleague to ask for their input; if I only have a hard copy, it can be scanned in, but it adds an extra step to the process when your goal should be to make it easier, not more onerous, for the employer to hire you.
I think your question is about looking for a way to stand out, but this isn't something you want to be noticed for. Instead of seeming like a display of impressive initiative, many hiring managers are going to interpret an application submitted through postal mail as too old school or behind the times.
Now, are there exceptions to this? Of course. There are undoubtedly some hiring managers out there who do still appreciate a snail-mailed resume--but they're in the minority. So unless you have specific information that a particular hiring manager swoons over candidates who send their resumes in hard copy, the days of taking your resume to a copy shop and picking out the perfect cream-colored heavy paper are over.
Alison Green is the author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Leader's Guide to Getting Results. She is chief of staff for the Marijuana Policy Project, a nonprofit lobbying organization, where she oversees day-to-day management of the staff as well as hiring, firing, and staff development. Her writings have been published in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Maxim, and dozens of other newspapers. She blogs at Ask a Manager.