Electronic and Scannable Resumes

by Greg Faherty, CPRW
In today’s ever-increasingly Internet-dependent environment, it is often necessary to have alternate versions of your resume ready for online posting or pasting into an e-mail. The most important of these formats are:

ASCII or plain text.  This is the most common alternate resume format. Many companies today require applicants to paste their resume into the body of an e-mail, both because this prevents transfer of virus-infected files, and because it makes it easier for the company to save the resume in a database.

Pasting a standard Word document into an e-mail, or into the ‘paste your resume here’ box on a company’s website, produces a jumbled document where bullet points and other graphics can end up as long strings of numbers and letters, and the margins have become much narrower. The ASCII or .txt file takes care of all these problems.

HTML/XML.  Some people have personal websites where they want to post their resumes so that employers can view the resume together with other information about the applicant. A standard Word document doesn’t necessarily post in the correct format.

Scannable.  Sometimes you will see an ad requesting a ‘scannable-only’ version of the resume be sent, either hard copy or electronically. This means the company’s HR department intends to scan the resume into a PDF or other type of database. Again, a specific format is required here, because the fonts, bold print, underlines, and graphics used on many resumes won’t translate properly during the scanning process.

What is the importance of using the proper (requested) format for your resume? It’s very simple. If you send a resume in a format that can’t be read, you’ll never receive any interviews. Using the proper format also shows that you read carefully and understand how to follow instructions, traits that employers value.