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Q. I have worked at the same place for 18 years, and it is definitely time for a change. I am now again in the job hunt. However, many things have changed in 18 years, among them the way the cover letter and resume are sent to a prospective employer. We used to put them in an envelope by regular mail. Now it seems most people e-mail them, often sending the resume as an attachment to the cover letter. My question is: I still prefer to send them the old-fashioned way. Is that still acceptable? Would that lower your chances of getting the job? I am told that human resources offices just toss them in the garbage when they come by regular mail. Well, that's rude of them, isn't it?

A.S., Lowell

A. You are right. The landscape for submitting cover letters and resumes has changed, make that evolved. Most certainly, that evolution can be traced to the explosive growth of the Internet and electronic communications in the 18 years since you last engaged in a job hunt.

Not only have the letter and resume gone the technological route, the entire process of the job search has. Although you still can find job opportunities in newspapers, online job search sites have become the favored locations for job listings, and companies now routinely list openings on their own websites.

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Regardless of where you find the job opportunity, the first rule of responding is to read the directions from the employer carefully, and then follow them. If the employer's instructions ask you to submit these documents in an e-mail, sending them via snail mail shows you are not prone to following instructions.

Be especially careful to note if the employer requests that you embed the resume in the e-mail rather than submit it as an attachment. Attachments can be laced with viruses.

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But the same basic rules of cover letter and resume submission apply:

  Proofread for spelling and grammatical errors.

  Make sure they are an accurate representation of you and your capabilities.

  Relate specific accomplishments in addition to job positions you have held.

  Use a common, readable typeface and a simple, readable design.


E-mail questions about business etiquette to etiquetteatwork@emilypost.com.