How to Create a Text Resume

If you’re actively job hunting, you’ll need at least two versions of your resume:  one in Microsoft Word (so you can edit and print), and one text version (so you can copy-and-paste it into emails and online applications).  You can’t successfully copy-and-paste Word documents into most web applications without screwing up the formatting (most of the time).  It might look okay on your screen, but if I had a dollar for every resume I’ve received that was screwed up to the point of unreadability, I’d be able to hire a minion to type this for me.

The best way I’ve found to format a resume is to type it up in Notepad (sorry, Mac users, I don’t know whether Macs have Notepad; feel free to enlighten me in the comments).  From there, you can make the formatting consistent and readable, and then save it as a text file.  Then you have something you can easily paste into emails, online resume databases, company applicant sites, etc.

Having received thousands of text resumes, the formatting that I find most readable is as follows:

YOUR NAME IN CAPS
Your address in upper/lowercase
Your City/State/ZIP
Your email (never leave this off, even though it’s in the header of your email to the employer)
Your phone number(s)

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE [in caps]

COMPANY NAME IN CAPS, City, ST, 2004-2008

Title in upper/lowercase

—Bullet point preceded by three dashes

—Bullet point preceded by three dashes

—Bullet point preceded by three dashes

COMPANY NAME IN CAPS, City, ST, 2000-2004

Title in upper/lowercase

—Bullet point preceded by three dashes

—Bullet point preceded by three dashes

—Bullet point preceded by three dashes

EDUCATION/CERTIFICATIONS [in caps]

B.A., In upper/lower, University of Somewhere
Certified in Fabulousness

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS [in caps]

Society of upper/lowercase users
Association for people you should totally hire

One important note:  remember that when you make changes to your resume in Word, you also need to update the text version.  Some people like to constantly tweak their resumes as their job search progresses, and if you’re one of those (freak!), you definitely want to ensure that the two versions match perfectly.

Incidentally, some people now send their resumes to recruiters as PDF documents.  I personally don’t care for this, because it takes longer for Adobe Acrobat to launch on my computer than, say, Microsoft Word…but I think that’s just my personal peeve. I know other recruiters who prefer the PDF version.  You don’t have to have expensive software to convert documents to PDF; I use PD995, which is free, and I believe there are lots of other free utilities out there as well.  If you’re doing this, you should convert the pretty Word version of your resume to PDF, not the ugly text version.

As a practical matter, though, more and more companies request text resumes, because they slide easily into the applicant tracking system, and because they don’t require recruiters to open documents that may contain viruses.  For that reason, having a good text version of your resume is essential.

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