Best practices for a plaintext resume
September 24, 2012 4:44 PM   Subscribe

Best practices for formatting a plaintext resume? I am going to apply for a job where I have to paste my resume into a form, and I'd like to have it not look terrible.

I saw this related askme thread which has some good ideas, but I have a couple of additional questions.

Should I do hard returns at 80 columns? I just wonder how likely it will be that when viewed in a variable-width font the lines will be too short.

It's hard to keep it to one page if the "page" is not really defined, but I can write it in Word to gauge the length I suppose.

I'd like to indent some parts and maybe use a horizontal rule line out of ----------- or _________ or ==========. Is that a terrible idea, or used carefully (and sparingly) could it be ok?

I plan to also host a pdf version of my resume (and list the url in my pasted-into-form resume, prominently, at the top), and maybe also a html version. Any other formats I should use? Word document maybe?

And in general, do you have any tips / best practices? Things to avoid?

Thanks in advance for any help.
posted by marble to Work & Money (5 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Assume any and all formatting will be lost as the best case scenario, and turn your resume into jigsaw puzzle at best. 80 columns is the best idea, IMO. When I had to do this, the only formatting I used was caps and dashes. Rows of dashes and equal signs and so on won't look good if someone opens it in a word processor where Comic Sans is the default font, and I assure you that happens. Here's what my plaintext resume looked like::



10/1/10-10/1/12 - Underwater Basketweavers Inc. - Basketweaver
-Weaved baskets.
-Weaved more baskets.
-Weaved yet more baskets.


Basketweaving University - Bachelor of the Arts in Basketweaving, 2002
posted by griphus at 4:51 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also you should have copies of your resume in PDF, Word 97-2003 (not 2007,) and HTML in the absolute simplest hand-coded HTML, or made in a specifically minimalist HTML editor.
posted by griphus at 4:53 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I format it to how I'd like it to look in Notepad or TextEdit (like how griphus made it), save it as an RTF in ASCII Western. The I can C&P that to a field or attach it.
posted by ichomp at 4:59 PM on September 24, 2012

If they specifically asked for a plaintext resume, it means they plan to have a computer "read" it before any human ever even considers you (and pasting it into a web form means it will strip out all your formatting, so don't even bother).

So, the name of the game you need to play here? "Buzzword Bingo". Load your resume with as many obvious-to-you skills that as you can think of - Do you know Excel? Say so. Because HR has loaded their shiny new program with all sorts of words they ("they" as in HR - Not experts in your field by a long shot) think you should have in your resume. If you hit enough of them - BINGO! Your resume makes it to round 2, a real live human.
posted by pla at 5:22 PM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

See tip #2 here.
posted by WasabiFlux at 7:20 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

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