|There are millions
of people and thousands of companies exchanging information over
computer networks such as the Internet. Within this complex network
many different word processing applications exist (such as Microsoft
Word, WriteNow, ClarisWorks, etc.) which operate on various computer
platforms (for example a Macintosh computer versus a PC). This can
make it difficult to know how to send information because you may be
unsure which specific program or platform the receiver uses to view
documents. Fortunately there is a standard, common text language
which allows different word processing applications to read and
display the same text information. That common text language is
known as ASCII text.
What is ASCII text?
ASCII (pronounced "askee") is an
acronym which stands for "American Standard Code for Information
Interchange" and is used to describe files that are stored in clear
text format. ASCII text is the simplest form of text, meaning there
is no formatting mechanism within the document and the text is not
platform or application specific. For example, ASCII is the text
widely used when you read and write e-mail because it is a simple
text language whose main purpose is the exchange of text information
(referring to information typed within the message body of an e-mail
and not to enclosures or attachments). This explains why the attempt
to bold words or format paragraphs doesn't work in e-mail. Because
of its simplicity, ASCII text enables anyone to construct an on-line
resume so when prospective employers retrieve your resume via the
Internet or e-mail, they will be able to view it no matter what kind
of computer they are using.
How does ASCII work?
In technical terms, ASCII is a
coding scheme which assigns numeric values to letters, numbers,
punctuation marks, and certain other characters. By standardizing
the values used for these characters, ASCII enables computers and
computer programs to exchange information regardless of platform.
There are 128 standard ASCII codes, each of which can be represented
by a 7 digit binary number: 0000000 through 1111111. Because ASCII
is the de facto worldwide standard for these code numbers, the
standard ASCII character set is universal among microcomputer
hardware and software. This is good news for Internet users because
now you can write or paste a text document, your ASCII resume, into
an Employer's Online Response Form, CareerMosaic's ResumeCM, or the
message field of an e-mail document, and it will be easily viewed
regardless of the type of computer platform you and the receiver use
to transfer the information.
How do I write my resume in ASCII?
To create an ASCII resume, all you
need to do is type your resume using your favorite word-processing
application, and then save it as a text only document (sometimes
also called Rich Text Format or RTF). This should be an option under
your "save" or "save as" command. You can also use a simple text
program to compose your resume.
Since your resume will appear as
ASCII text, it will not recognize special formatting commands
specific to your word-processing program, therefore, you must watch
for these common mistakes:
1. Special characters
(such as "smart quotes," or mathematical symbols) - these do not get
accurately transferred in the text save; avoid using special
2. Tabs - do not use tabs; use your spacebar instead;
- the default for ASCII is to make everything left justified (which
is the preferred format for scanning resumes and online viewing) so
if you want to indent a sentence or center a heading, use the
4. Word wrap
- do not use this feature when composing your resume; instead use
hard carriage returns to insert line breaks;
5. Fonts - fonts will become whatever a computer uses as its default face and
size so boldface, italics, and various sizes will NOT appear in the
6. Spell check
- check your document before you save it as a text file;
- make sure to read over your entire resume after you paste it in
the message field and before you hit the submit button.
What does a resume in ASCII look like?
Click here for an example of what a resume in ASCII text looks like.
Where do I post my ASCII resume?
Remember, once you've constructed
your ASCII resume, you can save this file and cut and paste it
anywhere on the Web! So when employers request that you forward your
resume in ASCII text via e-mail, you'll already have the document
ready to send. Good Luck!
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