Ever heard of an ASCII resume? Find out what the acronym stands for and when this type of resume is used. [TWEET]

An ASCII resume is an electronic resume in a common text language (plain text) that any type of computer and software can read.

ASCII (pronounced "askee") is an acronym for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. Due to its universal quality, ASCII text is used for entering (or pasting) your resume information into online submission forms and for pasting your resume into the body of an e-mail.

It is a best practice to convert your resume to ASCII in order to paste it into an e-mail or an online submission form and ensure it displays correctly. An ASCII resume also needs to have appropriate formatting to ensure that it will be read accurately by all online submission systems. Fancy formatting, fonts and bullets can disrupt an ASCII resume and make it appear disjointed and improperly formatted.

When sending your ASCII resume in the body of an e-mail, we recommend turning off HTML or Rich formatting to ensure your ASCII text is not converted as various systems and e-mail clients handle and display non-ASCII text differently; then paste the ASCII version of your resume in the body of the e-mail.

Keep in mind your ultimate success in being selected and ranked will be determined by how effectively you have used keywords within the ASCII resume. For example, is your resume filled with keywords relevant to the job description and your applicable skills and experience? Do you use action verbs that show your successes rather than tell? Can the hiring manager clearly identify the value you would provide to their organization?

These are all important questions to keep in mind for any resume, including the ASCII resume. The text is what’s going to give the hiring manager the information they need to call you for an interview – that’s the meat of your resume. With an ASCII resume and the plain text look, your resume writing is going to be what gets you through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), captures the hiring manager’s attention and intrigues them enough to schedule an interview.

How to Create an ASCII Resume Version.

Follow these simple steps to turn your modern resume into an ASCII version:

  1. Open your document in your word processing application (e.g., MS Word).

  2. Be sure your margins are set no smaller than one inch.

  3. Change all font to 12-point size text and eliminate any formatting (e.g., bold, italics, underlining, etc.)

  4. Convert to non-proportional font, such as Courier or Monaco.

  5. Remove all graphics.

  6. Replace all non-ASCII characters (e.g., bullets, em dashes, en dashes, or (in MS Word) smart quotes) with ASCII characters such as asterisks, hyphens, and standard quotation marks. (It may be easier to do this using the search and replace editing feature within your word processor).

  7. Avoid capital letters except in main headings.

  8. Left justify all text; this may include moving some text to the left margin by replacing tab stops with spaces.

  9. Save this version as "Text Only" or "Plain Text" with **no** line breaks. (Mac users: after saving as plain text, select "other encoding" then "Western (ASCII)".)

  10. Open this new file with a plain text editor such as Notepad or Text Edit. (Mac users: go to Preferences and be sure "plain text" is selected.) This will display your resume as it will be seen in ASCII format.

  11. Proofread your new ASCII resume carefully as some text may run together. Also, check for (and replace) any remaining non-ASCII characters that appear as question marks, square blocks, or other odd characters.

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