While it may be more of an urban legend, as opposed to something that actually happens on a regular basis, one scary story that career counselors tell to their job-seeking candidates, around the campfire, is that employers routinely use the “show comments” feature of Microsoft Word to review the entire history of changes that an individual has made to their resume.
As you can imagine, such comments could easily reveal some unflattering facts about an individual’s background — or expose a candidate’s tendency to edit or spin certain aspects of their work history in an overly-flattering direction. Did you generously round up some of the dollar figures in your past career accomplishments? Exaggerate the percentage of money you saved? Trim out some of your earlier positions? Switch from months to years on your employment history to hide some work history gaps or obscure the fact that you’re currently unemployed? With the “show changes” feature turned on, it’s entirely possible that the employer might catch on to some of your resume shenanigans…
And while again, I don’t suspect that this happens all that often in the real world — both due to the technical savvy it would require on the employer’s part, as well as the time it would take for recruiters and hiring managers to perform this step for every resume that comes in — it probably wouldn’t hurt for many candidates to “sanitize” their resumes and other written materials before sending them out.
How to do this? The easiest way is to click here and download a free “Remove Word Data” tool from Microsoft. Once you install this program, it will create a new option in the “File” menu of your Word documents that allows you to strip out any hidden formatting or tracked changes. The annoying part, however, is that it will then turn the document into a “Read-Only Recommended” file by default and pop up a box every time you open that particular file — unless you kill this feature by going into the document’s Options menu, turn off the “Read-Only Recommended” option, and then resave the file under a new name. All things considered, these steps are possibly more time-consuming than they are worth, but at least you’ve been warned and can act accordingly, if you’re concerned about this issue!