Why You Need a Plain Text Resume to Apply for Jobs Online
There are countless products out there that help job seekers format and lay out resumes to look beautiful and readable on paper. I believe that the appearance of a resume is definitely important, but I think on the internet the best and most useful formatting for a resume is plain text. Here are some reasons why you need a plain text resume if you are applying for jobs online.
1. Some companies want your resume only in plain text. For security reasons, some companies do not accept email attachments from outside of their networks. One company I worked for in the past specifically asked for resumes in plain text, and did not even open the Microsoft Word or PDF attachments even if they have been virus scanned. Their reasoning was that the candidate did not follow directions on the job description if the resume was not in plain text. In that case all the candidates that spent hours formatting their resumes really wasted their time because their emails went straight to the trash.
2. A plain text resume can be quickly read and forwarded in email. If you are sending your resume by email, then the quickest way for someone to see your experience is to read the resume in the body of the email. It will reach the reader immediately and save him or her the step of opening another file. Some human resource professionals read dozens to hundreds of emails a day, and having your resume right in their face in the email will give you an advantage because you are saving them time.
3. Your formatted resume may not appear as you intended. When you use a program like Microsoft Word to create your resume, you cannot really guarantee that your resume will look the same on another person's computer. I have seen resumes created in Word that looked pretty weird because the candidate used some fancy font my computer did not have. Creating PDF documents alleviates this issue, but you cannot guarantee that the person on the other end can open PDF documents created on your computer. If you use plain text you could at least make sure that your resume is readable through emai.
4. Online job applications websites prefer plain text. Most large companies have online job application systems that collect information from candidates with a web form and obviously it would take hours to type your information in from scratch. It is much easier to copy and paste into these forms if your resume is already in plain text. Otherwise you may get weird characters, spacing, and punctuation issues if you copy from some fancier word processing program.
Send your resume out in plain text unless the job description specifies that you can use another particular file type. You cannot assume that everyone in the world has Word or PDF programs installed on their computers, and making your digital resume overly fancy may cause you to miss some opportunities. Your goal is to catch the attention of a hiring manager and give information about your expertise through a resume, and if it takes more than 30 seconds to actually open your file you might have already lost your chance. A plain text resume is really simple and direct and cuts right to the substance, and I have found that it was the most effective resume formatting for my job searches in the past. My next post will be a simple guide to creating a plain text resume.