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Knowledge is Power

Paper has value. It’s sustainable, personal and purposeful — and the more we know about it, the more we can understand how to make smart choices about when and how to use it. Choose an article in our Knowledge Center, and read on to learn more about how paper plays a role in forest protection, recycling, learning, preserving financial records — even finding a job. You may just find paper does more than you think.

Paper Because

A résumé is a summary of your professional career, not a blog about what you had for breakfast.

When submitting a résumé to a prospective employer, the assumption is that you actually want the job. Providing too much personal information in this initial introduction can backfire and be considered by some recruiters as unprofessional.

With paper, you get to choose everything interviewers see and how they see it.

Electronic résumés have been common practice since the late 1980s, although the technology has certainly evolved over the past 20 years. Initially, electronic versions of résumés were actually scanned versions of paper documents that were saved into a database, with candidate information classified and accessed via key words. Then later in the 1990s came the career site, where people could submit their application online. These were then invariably printed out so they could be put in a file for HR managers. Next, people began sending their résumé by e-mail, flooding the in-boxes of recruitment agencies and hirers alike. Today, many corporations, or at least those that can afford it, accept applications only through their own tailor-made system. And, of course, you can apply for jobs via massive résumé databases like and Workopolis.

But despite all of the technology available to help you with your job search, most employment experts still recommend that you have a paper version of your résumé on hand throughout. A popular online job search site reminds us that many companies don’t have an application database to accept résumés. This would be especially true of a small or medium-sized business.

Even those that are equipped with this technology may decide to print your document for discussion. But what will it look like? A résumé printed out from a large database might not be in a format you like or highlight the content you feel best reflects your qualifications. With paper, you can tailor your experience to bring out your strongest points for a given job, and increase its impact by presenting your information in a manner that will visually attract the reader. In other words, you can put your individual stamp on it.

This ability of the paper résumé to provide a “uniquely you” experience is another reason why it is still relevant. Anyone who attends a job fair as part of their search for employment will tell you that recruiters scouting out prospects at events like these still gather paper résumés.1 At the same time, they are getting an initial feel for the applicant as they meet them in person and potentially discuss qualifications on the spot. You never know what they might write in the margins once you are on your way!

While a résumé on paper can get you potential face-to-face time with a future employer, you can use an electronic version to advertise your availability around the world just by clicking “send.” But is this necessarily a good thing? Job search specialists advise some restraint in disseminating your information electronically.

In The Riley Guide, a web site that introduces readers to the online job search, they caution: “Recruiters get tired of finding the same résumés for the same people in every database they search. If you get labeled a “résumé spammer,” you won’t be considered for job openings they are working to fill. Also, the farther your résumé spreads, the less control you have over it and the more likely it is to be discovered by someone you had hoped wouldn’t see it, like your current employer.”

This notion of Web-based information being accessible to people who maybe shouldn’t see it is another consideration when sending out electronic résumés containing personal data like your phone number, address and current employer. In fact, many recruiting professionals recommend transmitting this kind of contact information only via a designated email. In addition, other private material like the photos and exchanges found on social networks could show a side of a candidate that might be better revealed to their potential boss only after they have proven themselves a capable and responsible employee...

No one is suggesting that an electronic résumé is not valuable job search tool. We are just saying that a well-executed printed résumé is a classic, formal recruitment tool, accessible to every type of employer.

1   Paper Résumés... An Endangered Species? Gretchen Sturm