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Message to Applicants > Resume Tips > How to Build and Submit Your Resume in ASCII Text

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 characters;

2. Tabs - do not use tabs; use your spacebar instead;

3. Alignment - 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 spacebar;

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 ASCII version;

6. Spell check - check your document before you save it as a text file;

7. Proofread - 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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