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Using Google Docs to Publish Your CV to the Web

Giant Stack of Resumes[This is a guest post by Jason Mittell, Associate Professor of American Studies and Film & Media Culture at Middlebury College. In the 2011-12 academic year, he is a research fellow at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg at the University of Göttingen, Germany. He writes the blog Just TV.--@jbj]

Updating your CV is a tedious task, made all the worse if you want to maintain multiple versions and publish it to your website. Brian Croxall offered a great strategy for using Dropbox to maintain a permanent link to your latest updated version, effectively eliminating the need to upload revised versions to your website. Reading his advice, I wondered if there was a way to use the same idea to actually publish the content to the web, making Dropbox into a mini-webserver for your CV. In digging around, it seems like that is possible if you run your own content management system, as with a personal installation of WordPress using a plugin like Dropbox CDN (Content Delivery Network). Alas, I’m much lower tech in my personal site, relying on the hosted WordPress.com system that is much less flexible (but much less work for me), and I couldn’t figure out a way to embed a Dropbox-hosted file on my blog.

But in digging around, I found another option that accomplishes the same task of allowing me to edit my CV once to update all versions: Google Docs. WordPress.com has a built-in Google Docs plugin to embed a document (including word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation files), and Google provides the iframe embed code that should work on most webpages. So in less than an hour, I moved my CV from a word processing file on my hard drive with a duplicated WordPress page, into a one-stop GDoc that feeds my online CV. Here’s how:

First I uploaded my CV document into Google Docs, which is a simple process within the GDoc homepage. Once it’s a GDoc, I edited all weblinks as live links from the titles of publications, rather than displaying the URL as you might with a printed CV. I also needed to tweak the formatting to avoid using dual columns or tabs within the CV, as they displayed poorly in WordPress, and set the document’s margins to .1” to maximize screen display – depending on your web and CV style, there may be more font and formatting tweaking to do later to make it look nice on your site.

To publish to your site, in Google Docs go to File / Publish to the Web. That will give you the button to start publishing, an option to automatically republish revisions (which presumably you want to do), and the URL and embed code to your document. Depending on what you use to publish your website, the specific way that you embed the document will differ, but the principles I used for WordPress are basically the same. Within WordPress, create a Page (a stable constant bit of content, rather than the chronological flow of Posts). Copy the embed code from your GDoc into the content box for your page – when you save it, WordPress changes the code to its own shortcut format, which you can leave alone. Publish the page, and your CV is online!

The embedded version is not suitable for printing or downloading, so I took one extra step to create a downloadable version for readers. Within your GDoc, choose the Share button in the upper-right. A new GDoc defaults to Private – while you can publish a private GDoc to the web, making the document public provides readers the opportunity to view a non-embedded version to be printed or downloaded (but not edited!). So change the setting to allow anyone with the link to view the document (or if you want the Gdoc version to be found in web searches, make it fully public on the web). Then provide the link on your WordPress page (outside the embed frame) to allow readers to access the document for their reading, downloading or printing pleasure.

  Note that the embedded iFrame is a fine way to view a document, but it’s not a great way to navigate links – any link from your GDoc will open within the frame itself. My only solution is to put a note above the frame asking people to right-click links to open in new windows/tabs – anybody have a better way to force links in a GDoc to function as “target=_blank”?
  
  One last step to maximize your own access to your CV is to enable Offline Google Docs, allowing you to view & edit the document even if you’re not online. This only works within the Chrome browser (also allowing offline access to Gmail and Google Calendar), which is one of many reasons why Chrome is my preferred browser. Within the Google Docs homepage, choose the Gear icon in the upper right to turn on Offline Docs – after your system syncs, you’ll be set to edit your CV while offline, knowing that the updates will publish to the web as soon as you reconnect.

  Has anyone come up with other strategies for simple, well-synched publishing of CVs or other documents?
 
 Photo “Giant Stack of Resumes” by Flickr user woodleywonderworks / Creative Commons licensed BY-2.0

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