It seems easy enough. A company wants your resume. You just click on their site and there’s your perfect or next best job. You are excited. Your resume looks good to you. You look for the button to click and send. It should be that easy. But then you get to the proverbial next step. Now your options are limited. Now they want you to fill in an online application. You now have to past each and every date into tiny little boxes. Now you have to cut all those details from the body of your resume into bigger but just as annoying boxes. It’s what companies do. They have online applications like Taleo and they can wreck your nicely composed resume not to mention your patience and attitude.
But don’t stop or get discouraged. Online applications don’t often “import” your resume very nicely and it will look awkward and jumbled which can hurt your chances to be chosen for the job. Some people get so frustrated they just stop right there. Should this process be easier? Yes. But are companies likely to make it easier? Probably not right now. Why? Most companies have to handle thousands of applications and online applications make their hiring process more uniform and easier to match candidates to the jobs.
What do you need to do? First, you need an excellent and tailored resume. Do not forget that part of the process. So start building your house with a great foundation and don’t forget to write a cover letter toward the position you want. Ignoring these two preliminary steps can hurt your chances to earn the next interview.
Now this next step will show you how to prepare your documents for online applications so that formats don’t confuse and get sloppily applied in ways that make you look like a mess maker. Stem the frustration and follow these steps!
First: Save Your MS Word Resume as Plain Text.
A Plain Text document works best for an electronic resume because you can adjust the margins and formatting to suit the database or email system in which you are working. To convert your MS Word resume to Plain Text, do the following:
1. Start by opening the MS Word document that contains your resume.
2. Next, click the Office button (the logo in the upper left corner of your MS Word window).
3. Click Save As and select Other Formats.
4. At the bottom of the window that pops up on your computer, type in a new name for this document in the File Name field, such as “V1PlainText.”
5. Under this is the Save As Type pull-down menu. Scroll down this list to select “Plain Text (*.txt).”
6. Click Save to perform the conversion.
7. The File Conversion window should appear then click OK without changing any of the settings.
After changing your resume to Plain Text, your resume will look, well, plain. It won’t have any MS Word based formatting and “the look” will be gone. You still need to do a couple more things to clean it up before posting online.
Second: There are no page numbers or lines to delineate pages so clean up or delete references to page two.
This includes notes such as “Page 1 of 2,” “Continued,” and your name or header on page 2.
Third: Think about using all CAPS for words that need special emphasis.
This helps the “plain text” stand out but don’t overdo this step. Some guides suggest to do this for words that were bold, underlined, or in italics on your hardcopy version.
Fourth: Replace each bullet point with a standard keyboard symbol.
Plus signs (+)
Double asterisks (**)
Greater than (>)
Dash and greater than (->)
According to The Riley Guide and just about everyone I know who serves as a career coach, keep duplicates of your resume in each of these versions or formats, including:
A Print Version, designed with bulleted lists, italicized text, and other highlights, ready to print and mail or hand to potential contacts and interviewers.
A Scannable Version, a less-designed version without the fancy design highlights. Bulleted lists are fine, but that’s about the limit.
A Plain Text Version, a plain text file ready to copy and paste into online forms or post in online resume databases. This might also be referred to as a Text-Only copy.
An E-mail Version, another plain text copy, but this one is specifically formatted for the length-of-line restrictions in e-mail. This is also a Text-Only copy.
Credit Image: instantshift.com