Ask LH: Can I Track If My Resume Email Attachment Was Downloaded?

Dear Lifehacker, Thanks for the recent tip explaining one way to track emails and see if they have been read. What I'm wondering is this: is it possible to check if an attachment to an email, such as a resume, has been downloaded?

I know there are sites which I can upload my files to monitor the number of times they have been accessed. However, I don't want to force employers to have to visit another site simply to read my resume or cover letter. Any suggestions? Thanks, Job Hunter

Attachments picture from Shutterstock

Dear JH,

The short and sharp answer: no, we're not aware of such a service. (If readers know differently, tell us in the comments.) As you suggest, you can track how often a file has been downloaded from a site or if someone has visited your online portfolio, but the precise details of how someone else interacts with an email remain a closed book to the outside world.

But even if such a service did exist, knowing that your resume had been downloaded wouldn't really help you. Just because a file has been downloaded doesn't mean it has been read; someone might automatically download every resume sent in, but choose which ones to look at it based on the cover letter.

It's alright to send a follow-up email or make a follow-up call once you've applied for a job (presuming that the advertisement for the role specifically doesn't ask you to do this). However, being able to say "I know you looked at my resume" isn't going to help in that scenario; it's going to make you look needy and/or creepy. Ultimately, the most effective tool you have when applying for jobs is to write a resume and cover letter that explain your fit to that role. It won't always work, but it still works better than anything else.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Use th esame technique used by many of the 'email tracker' services - simply embed an image (or rather a link to an image) in the resume and track how many times that is read from the webserver. Might be easier to link to a URL shortening service which provides the 'click-through' counts if you don't run your own infrastructure.

    It's not perfect as viewers have to be online but will give some results and certainly can't give false positives.

    I have used this technique myself and had good results from it.

      This doesn't work if the viewer has disabled (or declined) automatic loading of external resources, which is more common than you might think. Particularly with recruitment companies or HR departments that deal with a lot of applications, this can often be IT policy.

      I know if I were reviewing a resume that popped up a prompt to load some external image, not only would I decline the prompt, I might be tempted to drop the resume altogether for trying to elicit behavioural data from me that you don't need.

      As Angus said, knowing if your resume has been viewed is meaningless. If you want to know how your application is going, call and ask. It's more direct and it shows better confidence and initiative than some surreptitious embedded tracking object.

    That would be "Can I Track WHETHER My Resume Email Attachment Was Downloaded?

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