Do you know where your resume is?

Nobody’s trying to be pessimistic here, just prepared. Given the recent economic unpleasantness, it’s not a bad idea to give the old CV a once-over, just in case it becomes necessary. But updating its content is only half the battle – how you wield it determines how effective it can be. Below are some ways to make sure you’re well positioned in case the bell tolls for thee.

Keep your resume at the ready: Ideally, you should keep an electronic version of your CV fully updated and accessible from any computer, ready to be sent out at a moment’s notice. E-mailing a version to yourself is a simple way to do this (saving it to a dedicated inbox folder ensures you can find it when needed) and minimizes the risk of missed opportunities that can occur if people are kept waiting while you’re stuck finding, revising or – worst of all – piecing together a new version from memory.

Don’t waste your formatting: Your up-to-date and available resume should also be saved as a PDF document. This way, your format remains intact regardless of whether someone uses an older version of Microsoft Word, or a different document software altogether. And since PDF documents are read-only, you also eliminate the possibility of accidental changes that can happen when a file is opened and forwarded by multiple people. You also come across as having more technical expertise, which is nice.

Make an initial public offering: If you’re not content to wait for a request, you can make your work experience public via professional networking sites like LinkedIn, Plaxo and Xing. While you can’t upload your resume directly, the benefit to using these sites’ online formats – which require you to create an individual listing for each job – is that they find and suggest as contacts other members whose education, work or even club and organization affiliations overlap your own. Once you’re connected to former colleagues or others, you share their address book and they yours, exponentially increasing your exposure (in theory, at least).

Show your e-mail skills: Sending an e-mail message and a CV as an attachment is simple enough, but what do you do when you’re sending additional materials, like large image files or other supersize attachments? The old method was to attach the jumbo file, cross your fingers and hope for the best. A small evolution of that method was to break the delivery into chunks the recipient’s e-mail system could properly digest. (This was often accompanied by an apologetic “Sorry for the seven e-mails. This is the last one!” message.) There is, however, a more elegant solution. For very large media files that surpass an e-mail system’s size limit, simply create links to files hosted on sites like drop.io and filedropper.com, which allow uploads of up to 100 megabytes (for drop.io’s free version) or much higher. Filedropper is a pay service, with plans ranging from 99 cents a month for 5 gigabytes to $10 a month for 250 gigs.
Think beyond the resume: With a little creativity, people in almost any profession  can make online applications or a personal Web site work for them. Anyone who creates marketing materials or corporate presentations can post examples of their work onto online photo-sharing and slideshow resources like Flickr and Picasa. Executives who are interviewed on television or radio or who are expected to make speeches can create a simple introductory video and post to a video-sharing site like Vimeo or YouTube.

If you want to gather these different elements together, then you’ll want to build a personal Web site. That’s a lot easier and cheaper than it used to be. Anyone with a Google account, for example, can design a personal Google Site (sites.google.com) at no cost using a simple, intuitive interface. You can create multiple pages, easily upload image, audio and video files up to 10 megabytes each (with a total storage cap of 100 megabytes), and ensure straightforward site navigation via customizable sidebars.

Tumblr is another free option. Technically a blog platform, the site offers various layouts that allow it to function more like a landing page (the “Silo” and “Museum” themes designed by one Tumblr user, Paul Giacherio, are especially nice), with different posts spread across the page rather than stacked vertically on top of one another as in a traditional blog format. Tumblr is also endlessly customizable and lets users upload or embed media files up to 50 megabytes.

Regardless of where you create your site, adding a link in the signature of your outgoing e-mail messages under a header like “professional site” is a great way to pique interest and point prospective employers in the right direction.

Think before you post: When it comes to putting work you’ve done professionally in a public space like the Internet, use caution. Even if you’ve created a product – be it a video, presentation or packaging copy – from beginning to end, it’s still the intellectual property of the company for which it was produced. It could be problematic if you share it without permission. (This is a bit of a gray area, but it’s much more black-and-white if what you did involved a nondisclosure agreement or other sort of privacy contract.)

Intuition is a good rule of thumb: If you don’t think a current or previous employer would want you posting examples of your work for them online, then you probably shouldn’t.

You may be online elsewhere: Pointing a company to your LinkedIn profile or professional site doesn’t mean that’s the only part of your online world they’ll see; if a potential boss or human resources assistant finds an unflattering photograph or blog post from you – and there’s a definite possibility someone will do a search – it’s fair game for them to consider that material reflective of you as a potential employee, even if, to you, it’s part of your “private” life. Keep all settings for your social networks as private as possible, and do the same on photo-sharing sites like the ones mentioned above. For better or worse, every public aspect of your online life is now part of your resume.

Copyright 2009 New York Times Syndicate Service