Why my resume will no longer be in Word format

Another contract cycle approaches and the question of the CV/resume has once again reared it’s head. The job boards are full of agency ads with instructions that resumes be submitted in MS Word format only.

Often when I have turned up to an interview, I have encountered printouts of my resume with my contact details removed and a huge logo of the recruitment agency slapped on the front. The logic being that the agency does not want the employer to contact me later on without them involved. While I appreciate the logic behind the practice, and have no problem with submitting a resume without contact details, I take objection to it being done by someone else.

A CV is a copyrighted work. This means that I as the author regulate how it is used. While I grant the right of distribution for the purposes of selling my services, I do not grant the right for it to be edited.

Changing the content of a resume often tragically messes up the formatting. The purpose of the document is as a sales vehicle for my services, and lot of time, money and effort has gone into its production. I object to the document being updated by someone who does not have the same intrinsic interest as myself in that work. I take pride in my work, and my resume is representative of this. I do not want for it to look like a dog’s breakfast when I am talking to someone at an interview.

Pasting an agency logo onto my CV without my permission is at the very least undesirable. I do not work through any given recruitment agency before a contract is signed, and do not wish to be represented as such. I am quite happy to put a footer into the document saying that it is prepared for their use, for future reference by their client, but do not wish their brand to be otherwise advertised through it. This practice is dubiously ethical as it makes use of the device of Social Proof, discussed by Robert Cialdini in his book “The Psychology of Persuasion”. The practice effects the perception of the agency through associating it with the skills of the contractor.

As a rarer but nonetheless important reason, I have encountered cases where agencies have changed key terms within the applicants’ resumes in order to make them more sell-able. Often, this is transparent and embarrasses all parties involved. Furthermore, misrepresentation of this type constitutes fraud, is illegal, and can be used as a reason to terminate the contract in the future if the applicant is successful. This is not a risk that I wish to be exposed to.

I understand that there are certain requirements for job applications through agencies. A resume must be able to be read, searchable for future reference, and should not have the applicant’s contact details. In accordance, I will now distribute it in Adobe PDF format only. PDF is a de-facto standard for document distribution, is searchable and protects my rights as the copyright author.

What is your experience? Have you encountered any of these problems, or any resistance to such a stance?

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