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Electronic Resumes
-By Pat Kendall, NCRW (Originally Published in 1998)

Technology is rapidly changing the face of traditional job searching – as evidenced by recent statistics showing that more than 80 percent of employers use the Web for recruiting.

Since the majority of resumes are processed electronically (via OCR scanning or direct database input), we must re-examine how we write and design resumes. We have a different audience now and the rules have changed.

Keyword Strategies
ASCII Text Resumes
Create ASCII Resume
PDF Resumes
HTML / Web Resumes

Picture this: Instead of circling ads in the Sunday paper, you turn your computer on, log in to an Internet job bank and type in the appropriate keywords. Within seconds, your computer screen displays a list of job leads, selected to meet your specific requirements. With another couple of keystrokes, your e-mail resume is transferred to potential employers – no paper, no stamps, no delays!

E-mail has not only revolutionized communication, but has become the cornerstone of electronic job searching. E-mail resumes are basically plain text (ASCII) documents without the formatting enhancements. Appearance doesn't matter, though, as the primary beauty of ASCII-formatted resumes is that any employer can read them, no matter what kind of computer system they have.

How to Create an ASCII Text Resume

First, make a copy of your existing resume. Give this new document a different name, then make any needed changes (such as adding your e-mail address or incorporating keywords). Next, use use your word processor's SAVE AS function to save the resume as a plain text or text only file. You may get a warning about losing your formatting enhancements, but that's okay – that's what we're trying to do.

After saving it in text format, exit your word processor, then open the document again. In doing this, you'll find that the formatting enhancements have been stripped from the resume. Bolding, italics, ruling lines and such are gone. In some cases, bullets will automatically turn into asterisks (*) or dashes (-), but if not, make these replacements yourself.

Finally, you'll want to clean up any extra spaces or awkward gaps caused by tabs. When you're done, your name should be at the top, flush left, with your phone and e-mail address stacked underneath.

Text without breaks

ASCII Text Resume


Regardless of your original format, your categories should be left flush and the body text directly underneath. You can add one hard return between paragraphs that are not separated, but if you add more returns, they won't “hold” and may cause problems later... so don't doctor things up too much. To check your changes, simply save the document, exit and open again to review the results.

Before e-mailing this resume, it's a good idea to check and see how it holds up. To do this, send the document to yourself and print it out and see what it looks like. In most cases, some additional clean-up will be needed before it's ready to use.

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Your resume – and any additional information you provide on paper or through consultation – is considered confidential and private. Names, addresses, and e-mails of clients and prospective clients are "private" and not sold or traded.

.Pat Kendall, NCRW
© 2015, Pat Kendall, NCRW
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