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Articles > Managing Your Career - Presentation Vs. Submittal Resumes - Part 1 - The Overview
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Managing Your Career - Presentation Vs. Submittal Resumes - Part 1 - The Overview

Presentation Resume Versus Submittal Resume – The Overview

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By Erika Strom, PHR, JDA Professional Services, Inc.

Submit Resume

In looking for your next career move, or while you’re in the hunt for a change, you’ve had a resume.  People generally realize that the purpose of the resume is to get the interview, and with that thought, a lot of individuals are trying to make their resumes stand out from the crowd.  This leads to the Presentation Resume: the pretty resume, formatted creatively and on good paper, designed to make a statement.  In this electronic age of job searching, the presentation resume has made it to the digital media.

And, if you’re like most of us, you probably paid a designer or professional resume builder to create this resume for you.  It’s a beautifully formatted resume, with graphs, charts, colors, and commentary, and given to you in its final form of the PDF. And you’re using it for everything – but should you?

A practical question about presentation resumes has surfaced.  It’s “Does this presentation resume have positive effects when used to apply online to a company’s opportunities?”  Our opinion of that is no.  These beautifully done PDF resumes are not necessarily a help to you and could possibly be a hindrance to your online applications. And here’s why.

A complication arises when a PDF presentation resume is used online, usually due to unstructured data within the resume; i.e., text boxes, graphs, and charts.  The ATS (applicant tracking software) being utilized by companies to collect information cannot effectively read a PDF and imbedded unstructured data.  It tries to extract / export information into a form that can later be used to collate and then regurgitate candidates to an end-user running queries.  The more designed your presentation resume is, the harder it is for the system to understand those graphs, charts, data points, and pictures -  and then turn around and export it, in the form of a usable and readable report to the person on the other end of that database.  

While your physical presentation resume is beautiful and leaves an impression on managers when you’ve handed them out, the presentation resume is just that: it’s a presentation of your skills, a snapshot of you, for you to give directly to managers and take into interviews to make a wonderful first visual impression.   If the electronic system you have submitted it to cannot read it, then you’re not being found by the people who need to find you; and as a result, you’re not getting called to come in for a serious discussion about a role you may be eminently qualified to fill.

Our recommendation is for you to have what we call a Submittal Resume.  This is the bare formatted resume in a Word or TXT format that you use to submit yourself to opportunities online.  All of your information is on it, but this is You, in the purest form of resume; it’s just lacking the visual punch of a presentation resume.  An excellent benefit of this submittal resume is that it can be easily modified, should you need to add a line or three to specifically focus in on what that particular opportunity posted online is looking for in a qualified candidate.

In the submittal resume, keeping it simple is the key to getting it through the computer AI (artificial intelligence) programs.  Have your name and contact information (phone and email) at the top, have your sections clearly labeled (summary, skills, experience, education, etc.).  Within your sections, give details of your skills (technical and soft). Make sure your experience is listed from the most current backwards with easy to distinguish company name, dates, title, and bullet points to show off your accomplishments and duties.  This will demonstrate a logical progression of your history and growth, and it’s perfectly acceptable to give details within your experience showing what you’ve done, how you have made things better, fixed a problem, and saved your company money.

This is the information that the database collects and uses to determine your “match” to the opportunity to which you’ve applied.  The resume is designed to get you in; once you’re there and speaking to live people, then you bring out your beautiful resume to make a visual statement and help the hiring managers remember you not only for your impactful interview but also for your polished presentation.

For more information about Presentation Resumes versus Submittal Resumes or how to work with Recruiting Agencies to get through the online submittal databases, contact us at 713.548.5400 or via email at jda (at) jdapsi (dot) com , or find us on the web at

JDA Professional Services, Inc. is a Houston-based IT staffing firm specializing in the recruitment of strategic-technical to executive-level IT professionals. We provide IT staffing solutions through full-time and contract placements. Since 1981, we have been helping companies locate, attract, and retain the right IT candidates to build great IT departments while helping IT professionals find the right opportunities to advance their IT careers.

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