SECTION H: Electronic Résumé Formats

Here you will combine your excellent use of language and formatting with today’s demanding use of technology.

The first section we will examine is:  ASCII (pronounced a′sk-ee): This stands for the American Standard Code for Information Interchange.

This is computer-speak for saving your résumé in plain text (as opposed to something like a word document or PDF file) with no special formatting. You will need to have a plain text version of your résumé as part of your job search.


  • Universally readable
  • Can be pasted into email and online forms without the recipient seeing confusing formatting marks that interfere with the appearance of the words
  • Can be taken from your e-mail into your employer’s database
  • Can be distributed in the blink of an eye to up to many thousand websites, recruiter sites or employer sites
  • Cost effective (electronic versus print copies)
  • Demonstrates you are technologically savvy


  • No visual Appeal / No Formatting Capability except what you manually insert. No toolbar use for visual appeal.
  • Can be difficult to read even when you entered it correctly
  • Can very easily be ignored by recruiters who are targeting a specific position and/or industry if you are off the mark from their search
  • Extremely fierce competition when uploaded to major career sites

To create a plain text résumé:

  •  Open the word processing file of your résumé.
  •  Delete header information from your second page

Save your finished document as a Plain Text version (*.txt) with Courier font by:

  • Click Save As
  • Choose Plain Text from your (perhaps scrolled) choices in text box that allows you to name your new version
  • Name your new version of your résumé for differentiation/identification
  • Click Save

Save that file as ASCII Résumé Version I unfixed.  The “name” you assign it is going to be an easily identifiable (to you) description of which résumé this is. 

Close the document, and then reopen it. You may be surprised at the jumbled mess you have on your hands in unedited ASCII.  Use your keyboard and liberal use of white space to make your resume more readable and attractive.

Save your new version as ASCII Version I Fixed.

E-mail it to yourself as a test.

When you email it to yourself, attach a 2003 version of your word document résumé and your 2003 PDF résumé as well.  Having this available will mean you can give your employer EVERY OPPORTUNITY to get to your information. Many employers request all three formats.

 Be Careful:

No more than 60 characters per line

Rename each new-finished ASCII resume for your files

Do not send anything BUT your résumé!

Example:  A regular to an unfixed ASCII to A fixed, emailed ASCII.  Our first sample is a Word 2003 document.

Required Exercise: Your e-Résumés

Optional storage and formatting for e-résumés

Use one of the online résumé creators and storage sites.  Many allow you to add fancy formatting for online display. They may also supply buzzwords and samples of résumés for specific fields of work and permit you to load as many as five versions of your résumé and store them for free.

Some websites that let you post your résumé online:

You will need to register and create a user name and password (similar to the Maryland Workforce Exchange site, There are many free sites out there so search until you find one you like that is gratis before paying for one.

After choosing some storage possibilities, you can use your ASCII text to paste into your online résumé. You will also use your ASCII résumé to paste into online application forms.

Additional online storage capabilities:

You can store your versions as you work online in:

Google Documents


Make Use Of Posts on file storage and sharing:

Store your information electronically on a flash drive - just don’t misplace it!

 Scanned or Faxed Résumés

Just like with your ASCII version, once you’ve written your résumé, you will need to create a scannable version.

The scannable résumé has the same information as a regular résumé; it’s just formatted to be more readable by scanners. When you fax a résumé or an employer scans it into a database, computer systems pick out the keywords (those qualifications that you’ll find in the job lead) andscore your résumé. But in order for that to happen, first a scanner or fax machine has to be able to read the résumé accurately.

Here’s how to make your résumé scannable:

Use a simple sans-serif font, like Arial or Cambria in size 11-14 points. Keep all your lines shorter than 65 characters (a character is a letter, number or punctuation mark.) 

  • Don’t be fancy: no bold, bullets, underlining – nothing!
  • You can use ALL CAPS for section headings; you can use more vertical space than you might otherwise. It doesn’t matter if it runs an extra page.
  • Left justify all text (have it start on the left and end wherever it ends.) 
  • Start the résumé with your Skills Summary or Qualifications Summary.  This gives you an additional opportunity to get different forms of keyword/buzzwords

The most important thing about a scannable résumé isthat it must have what the employer is looking for! If you don’t have the skills, it doesn’t matter how readable your scanned résumé is.

Unless the job lead tells you otherwise, it’s best to send the scannable résumé in the body of the email.

For a résumé to be scanned or faxed, remember:

  • Use crisp, white, good- quality paper with watermark
  • Use a laser-printed original, not a photocopy
  • Separate all essential, personal information unto a line of its own:
    • Line 1: Name
    • Line 2: Address
    • Line 3: Telephone
    • Line 4: Email

Send a trial copy to yourself or a friend first.

Save and date faxed for your records with cover sheet and the ad’s date.

Please make use of the savvy staff at Frederick Workforce Services if you have any questions about the proper way to prepare, store or send any of this type of material!