How to choose the right eResume format

Sending a resume electronically requires that you format your resume in a way that is readable by other computers, and compatible with other software programs.

Transferring Resumes Electronically

The Internet transfers, stores, and retrieves data in units known as files. A file is a complete named collection of information such as a program, a set of data used by a program, or a user-created document similar to those created in a word processor or text editor. To successfully transfer a résumé from one location to another, both people and computer programs must be familiar with a few common file types, distinguished by their "format." By convention, files normally have a two to four-letter extension at the end of their filenames.

These formats exist so that applications can store and retrieve data electronically. File formats also give files different degrees of richness in terms of the kind of information they contain, and how this is information is presented (or rendered).

Three Flavors of ASCII Resumes

You can create an ASCII vanilla resume, rich resume, or marked-up resume depending upon how you intend to transfer your resume file electronically.

ASCII file formats are the most common type of data files transferred electronically via the Internet, including email. ASCII (pronounced ASK-ee), stands for the American Standard Code for Information Interchange. The three common ASCII file formats that eresume files are transferred as are:

  • Plain Text (.txt) - Plain-text document files are exactly that - plain. The benefit is that PCs, Macintoshes, UNIX Workstations, or mainframe terminals can read these files. The term "vanilla" resume usually refers to plain-text resumes because there is no formatting.
    • View Sample Plain Text eResume
    • If you are required to transmit your résumé via email, its file is stored on your PC and viewed with an email reader like Microsoft Outlook. When you transfer this file to someone else's computer, you may not know what email program - and reader - they have to open and view your resume. In this case, the most common format to use is plain-text.
    • Another common use of plain-text is when you are asked to copy and paste a text version of your resume into specified field located on job board résumé builders or job application forms online.
  • Rich Text (.rtf) - Most job seekers are used to creating their resumes in a word processor. which does provide fancy formatting options. This rich text file is compatible across different brands of word processors while retaining its "richness" as a formatted document during and after the file has been transferred, and only if it is viewed in a compatible word processor.
    • View Sample Rich Text eResume
    • If you are asked to provide your resume via an email attachment, or an online resume builder allows you the option to upload a word-processed version of your resume, in both cases you can transfer/upload your resume as a rich text file.
    • If the resume builder indicates that you can upload "Word files" or ".doc files," you can upload your resume using the Microsoft Word native file format with the .doc extension.
    • If you are not sure, do a "SAVE AS" in your brand of word processor, and save as an .rtf file. Be sure to check the user's manual of your respective word processor.
  • Hypertext (.html) - Many people are surprised to learn that Web pages are also ASCII files; it is not uncommon that ASCII is used interchangeably with plain-text, when this is not true. When creating a document in HTML, which stands for Hypertext Markup Language, it is "marked up" by using "tags," that will render the desired format when the document is viewed using a Web browser like Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
    • View Sample Plain Text eResume
    • If you want people to view your resume as a Web page, you would upload it to a Web server that hosts your Web page account as a hypertext file. When you hear the term "Web resume," it usually refers to the HTML version of your résumé.
    • Hypertext resumes allow you to integrate graphics, audio, and multimedia, if the Web browser used to render the document on Web supports these additional formats.