How to Convert Your Traditional Resume to an ASCII Resume

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Most applicants understand how important first impressions can be when job hunting. In many cases, the resume is the employer's first--and maybe only--contact with each candidate. A perfectly formatted, impeccable resume could mean the difference between an interview and the rejection pile. But if you are sending a resume electronically--by email, for example--you can't be sure that the formatting and style will transfer correctly when the recipient views it. The only way to guarantee this is by converting your resume to plain text as an American Standard Code for Information Interchange--or ASCII--resume.

Open your current resume. Capitalize any bold headers--because bold won't show up in plain text--and replace each bullet point with an asterisk or dash. Convert the font to Courier, using a size of 12 points, and change the side margins to 1.5 inches.

Open a text editor, such as NotePad, Simple Text or a specific ASCII converter--and cut and paste your resume into the application. The text editor will convert your document to plain text. If your initial document is in Word, you can achieve the same result, without the need to cut and paste, by saving the file as a plain text, or .txt, document. Simply select File, Save As, then select plain text as the Format option. Your computer might then prompt you to select the plain text format, in which case pick "ASCII" or "Western ASCII."

Review the text. In many cases the sentences and paragraphs will run together. If so, use hard returns, also known as paragraph returns, to separate each line. Introduce a hard return by placing the cursor at the end of each line and pressing the return key. Remove any tabs and left justify the text. Each capitalized header should be a line by itself. Your name also should be capitalized and placed on a separate line.

Remove any unusual characters, such as question marks and square boxes, that have been introduced into the text. This happens when a formatting or style convention you used in the original document, such as a bullet point, is not recognized in plain text.

Email the document to yourself and, if possible, a friend or colleague with a different computer system. If you have a PC, try to find a friend with a Mac, for example. Use different email providers to open the message and review the document. The document should be consistent and appropriately formatted in both systems.

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