Electronic Resume Guide
Virtually all electronic versions of resumes fall into what is called Plain Text resumes. While on-line forms and email are the most limiting in terms of formatting, scannable resumes also have limited formatting options.
ASCII Text Resumes for On-line Forms and Email
ASCII Text resumes (also known as Plain Text resumes) are used for inserting your resume into on-line forms or sending your resume by email. Most employers prefer that you embed your resume into the body of the email, rather than send it as an attachment. ASCII text resumes don't include formatting such as bullets, bold, underlining, centering, etc.
How to create an ASCII Text resume
- Open your resume using your word processor.
- Save your resume as a "text only" file.
- Open the text file (your text only resume) in a text editing program such as Notepad for PC or Simpletext for Mac. The text editor lets you see your resume the way your prospective employer will see it.
- Review your resume, correct bad spacing, and remove or change any characters that didn't translate well into ASCII:
- Use asterisks or dashes instead of bullets.
- Insert line breaks by pressing the "Enter" key.
- Do not use tabs.
- Highlight different sections using "+", or "*", or "-" or other symbols that are on your keyboard.
- Do not use bold or italics. Use capital letters for emphasis. But remember, too many capitals letters are hard to read and are the equivalent of yelling (know your netiquette).
- Save the revised text file.
- To send your resume by email: Create a new email addressed to the recipient. Commence your email with a short cover note and then copy and paste your text (ASCII) resume into the email. It's a good idea to send a test email to yourself first, so that you can be sure the resume looks perfect in its email format.
- To insert your resume into an on-line form: Copy and paste your electronic resume (text / ASCII version) into the appropriate space on the form.
View a sample ASCII text resume.
Instead of reading your paper resume, many prospective employers will scan it into a computer. They then search the electronic resume using keywords relevant to the skills and experience they're seeking. Therefore, it's important to provide a resume that includes appropriate keywords and that is legible when scanned. Scannable resumes have a little more leeway (particularly in choice of fonts) compared to ASCII or plain text resumes.
How to create a resume suitable for scanning:
- Open the ASCII text version of your resume using a text editor such as Notepad for PC or similar.
- You may change the font to a standard serif or sans serif font (such as Helvetica, Arial, Times, Optima, Courier, in 11-12 point.
- Your scannable resumes should be written with the same guidelines for any resume you write, but here, to the degree possible, use keywords relevant to the job and the industry. If the job was advertised, and your experience is truly relevant, include keywords from the advertisement. Because keywords are likely to be nouns rather than verbs, use words such as "team leader" instead of "responsible for leading a team."
- Print your resume on lightcolored 8.5" x 11" paper.
- Use a high quality laser or ink jet printer. Don't use a dot matrix printer.
- Don't fold or staple your resume. If your resume is more than one page, be sure your name is on all pages.
- Send it in as requested (usually by mail or fax.)