Category Archives: Resume Tips

Converting a resume to plain text from Microsoft Word.

Many resume writers and career consultants recommend that your resume makes a splash with sharp graphic design and other style features. But what about those job sites that want you to email your resume within the body or require you to upload the resume into their online app? Or maybe you have a website and want to include your resume as part of the content – either as a job-seeker or even a business owner – and you simply just want clean text. Plain text or ASCII format is the answer. (pronounced ASKEE).

ASCII means American Standard Code for Information Interchange and refers to the universal code that most computers understand. A document saved in this format is very simply put, just words. There are no pictures, graphics or fonts and no special style characteristics like bod or underline. If it sounds boring to you, don’t worry you’re not alone in that thinking. It is a very boring document to look at, but it has all the information necessary.  For job-seekers, it’s just what you need to get your information in front of a person via email or if you want to respond to an online job listing — think Monster or Careerbuilder. And if clean text is what you need, like the sample below, here are some tips to help you get there:

A plain text resume is easy to copy and paste into the body of any email.
Photo Credit: Words Etc.

  • When creating your resume in a word processing format, remove all of the special character attributes like bold, italics or underlining.  Special fonts and font size will disappear, along with tabs when you convert to plain text, so you may want to remove these features from your document before you convert it to make the adjustments easier to make later.
  • Rather than using the “bullets” feature, use these characters to define lists in the body of your resume:    + * or ~.  To separate sections of your resume, use a series of special characters.  For example:  ———————— ***************** ================= ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Align text to the left. You want a ragged right margin.
  • Let your sentences wrap to a new line.  Do not use the “enter” key to try to control the length of each line. But you should use the enter key to add white space between sections of your resume.

Following these tips will assure that your plain text resume will be easy to read on your recipient’s screen, whether he is using a computer, iPad or phone.

Once you have your document in as simple a format as possible, following the above guidelines, you will need to use the “save as” feature to save it as a “plain text” document.  Depending on the software you’re using, your choices may include ASCII, Plain Text or Text Only.  Any of these should work. You now need to reopen the file.  You’ll find that your program has reformatted your resume file into Courier font and removed all formatting and left-justified the text.

Next, you’ll need to make some adjustments to your document:

  • Reset the margin to 2 inches on both left and right margins
  • Fix any strange characters that now appear where you may have used curly quotation marks, dashes, accents or other  non-standard symbols
  • Remove any tabs and adjust the spacing.  You may have to add a few blank lines to make your resume easier to read.
  • Add a series of characters as mentioned above to separate the sections of your resume.
  • Re-save the file.  It will now be saved  as a “.txt” format file.

You’re done! Now you can open the .txt file and copy and paste it into either the body of an email or to an online application.

If you have any trouble with creating your plain text resume, leave me a comment or contact me at christine@wordsetc.info

Thanks for reading!

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More résumé tips

Before you send that résumé out, take some time to make sure it’s the best it can be. Here are some general tips:

  • Be sure to proofread. Have someone else proofread too. It is easy to skim over typos, punctuation errors or grammar mistakes when we review our own writing. Check it twice and then check it again. Errors may be perceived as an indicator of a lack of attention to details – often an important job skill.
  • Use action keywords. Here’s a list of Power Words.
  • Stress accomplishments using metrics to demonstrate success; for instance, if you increased sales from one year to the next, show the percentages:

 Increased sales from 2009 to 2011 by 30%

  •  Try incorporating a bar graph to further demonstrate these accomplishments

    Use a graphic to demonstrate your accomplishments

  • Be honest with details. The Dean of Admissions at MIT lost her position because she lied on her résumé. Don’t run that risk.
  • Make your areas of expertise stand out near the top of your résumé. Consider using a text box framed with shadow and color to really make a splash.  See the image to the right.
  • Put your finest assets on center stage. In other words, if your education is your strongest point, put it near the top; however, if you have years of applied experience, you should list your experience first and move your educational background to a lower position within the body of the résumé.
  • If you have limited experience and education, a one-page résumé is suitable, for instance in the case of a new graduate, but it is no longer the norm. We discussed this in my last post. Don’t be afraid to use two, or even three, pages to support the targeted positions and demonstrate your worth. Remember that today it’s about keywords. The more keywords you use in your résumé, the better your chance of being selected. So use the space you need to describe your skills and qualifications.
  • If you are using a professional résumé  writing service, request that you receive your final files in both Word (or rich text) and PDF formats.  And if you plan to submit your résumé via email, ask about a plain text (ASCII) file format too. Or you can convert it yourself from the Word (rich text) version. This plain format is often required at web-based job sites and is also recommended for embedding your résumé within the body of an email. More about plain text or ASCII format for your résumé next time.

If you have résumé questions, please leave me a comment.  I’d love to hear from you and what challenges you are facing!

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An important resume decision – one or two pages

Should your résumé be condensed to one page?  We’ve been hearing that advice for many years.  After all, the goal is to give a quick overview of your background, skills and education in a concise and relevant manner.  You want to choose the right words and graphic elements that express your work style and accomplishments while keeping the attention of your reader — in this case the résumé reviewer.

But don’t let the one-page rule influence you too much.  If you’re a new graduate or don’t have a varied work history, of course a one-page version will probably work fine for you.  But if you’ve had the chance to build a large skill set with relevant work experience and education, you don’t want to sell yourself short.  So don’t be afraid to  use the two-page format.  In the case of a top-level business executive, three pages may even fit the bill.

Sample of a one-page resume. Resume by Words Etc. Click on the image to enlarge.

Résumé experts agree that today the important thing is that you include all your skills and qualifications, using as many keywords as possible, even if it takes two pages.  It is likely that your résumé will be scanned for keywords, so the importance of including as many of them as possible cannot be stressed enough. And except in the case of a plain text résumé, which we’ll discuss in another post, you also want to keep white space, graphic design and formatting in mind, and this often means use of space that may result in two pages. Click on the link below to view a sample two-page resume.

Resume.2page.sample

White space should be used consistently through your résumé. A general rule is to use the same amount of white space between sections of the résumé and less space between the individual  items – for instance the lists of your duties and responsibilities.  See the sample two-page resume below.  The use of graphic lines also helps to define the sections of your résumé. These design elements create a document that is easy to scan quickly as the reviewer looks for the elements they want in their next employee.

Remember your résumé is your advertisement for you. Just like an ad in a magazine or newspaper, you’ve got  to grab your reader’s interest and keep it by making your “ad” easy to review and  highlight those keywords that will put you on the short list for interviews.The last thing you want is a  jumbled up document that is crowded and so hard to read or scan quickly that you end up in the dreaded “round file!” So don’t be afraid to expand to a two-page version for your résumé.

What challenges do you have in creating your resume?  Please share.  I’d love to hear from you!

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Key Accomplishments section for your resume

The Key Accomplishments section is an important component of your resume

Photo credit: Words Etc

Keep this section close to the top of your resume so it is one of the first things the reviewer sees. Be sure to make this section eye-grabbing by adding some color and putting in a text box of one type or another. This key accomplishments area is also easy to edit without interfering with the main body of the resume so you can adjust for different uses or jobs.

 So just what are key accomplishments?

  • These may consist of some exceptional or unique roles you filled or goals that you met
  • Think about things for which your boss or manager complimented you.
  • Did you receive awards or commendations?

These are great places to start. I suggest you identify one major key accomplishment for each job as this shows a consistent level of growth and expertise in your given area or areas. And be sure to add metrics that apply. For instance, instead of:

increased sales consistently

 give a percentage like this:

increased sales in 2011 by 30% from the previous year

You may also consider adding a graphic to increase the strength of this statement, like a bar graph or a chart.  This is especially useful when demonstrating your success in sales or revenue accomplishments.

Also remember to tailor your key accomplishments to fit the particular job posting. For instance, if your background has been in sales and you want to transition more into management, demonstrate some accomplishments that make you a good candidate for management. Have you managed budgets, motivated others, developed new strategies? All of these fit well into a management role. This is extremely important if you are transitioning career fields, but if you look carefully at each part of your past jobs, you’ll be able to identify points that demonstrate your strengths. And that’s what it is really about – your strengths and why you are the best candidate for the position.

Remember it’s about what you can offer the company.  So get busy and compile those key accomplishments and make sure they are part of your resume today.

Watch for more tips soon. And if I can help you with building or revising your resume, visit http://www.wordsetc.info or leave me a comment here!

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Expertise, Key Accomplishments and Keywords

My last post about keeping your resume updated drew a lot of attention so I thought it makes sense to continue this line of conversation.  Let’s talk about a few important elements of your resume.

photo credit: Words Etc

Expertise

Last time I mentioned adding an “Expertise” area to your resume.  To expand on that, the reason I like to use this when I develop resumes for my clients is that it adapts well to tailoring a resume to a specific job posting while leaving the historical portion of the resume intact (experience, education, etc).  Think about your strongest skills and focus on them in a list or in a shadow box that really draws the eye.  Now this design feature  won’t matter in an electronically submitted resume, but it’s important to have it at the top because that’s where our eyes usually start when reading anything, whether paper or electronic.  We’ll talk more about reformatting for the web in another post.

Key Accomplishments

The same goes for utilizing a “Key Accomplishments” section.  I usually put both of these areas at top beneath the name and contact information.   This key accomplishments area is also easy to edit without interfering with the main body of the resume.

So just what are key accomplishments?  These may consist of some exceptional or unique roles you filled or goals that you met.  Think about things for which your boss or manager complimented you.  Did you receive awards or commendations?   These are great places to start. I like to identify one major key accomplishment for each job as this shows a consistent level of growth and expertise in your given area or areas.

And remember to tailor these to fit the particular job posting.  For instance, if your background has been in sales and you want to transition more into management, demonstrate some accomplishments that make you a  good candidate for management.  Have you managed budgets, motivated others, developed new strategies?  All of these fit well into a management role.  This is extremely important if you are transitioning career fields, but if you look carefully at  each part of your past jobs, you’ll be able to identify points that demonstrate your strengths.  And that’s what it is really about – your strengths and why you are the best candidate for the position.

Keywords

Remember the importance of keywords.  Just like SEO on a website, you have to use keywords in your resume that match the keywords of the job description.  In our high-tech world, resumes are often scanned before the selection process begins.  If those keywords of the job description aren’t in your resume, guess what?  Your resume ends up in the round file, whether physical or electronic.  Click here for a great list of power words to use.

Okay, so get busy.  I’ve given you some ideas to start working on if your resume needs revamping.  What challenges do you think you’ll have in building or rebuilding your resume?  Share with me.  I’d love to hear from you.  And tune in again for more ideas to help your resume be the best that it can be.

Related article on Social Media and Job Seekers

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