Do I Need a Plain Text Resume?

When you submit your resume, it may be reviewed by a person or it might be initially screened through an Applicant Tracking System.

If you are submitting your resume and you know that it will be reviewed by a person, submit your beautifully formatted and designed resume.   

Resume Sample_Page 1 and 2.JPG

Looks good, right?  But what happens when you apply online and you are asked to copy and paste your resume directly into the Applicant Tracking System?  Generally, your resume will be stripped of formatting and converted to plain text.  Here's what happens when the above resume gets converted to plain text. 

Oh, no.  A couple things are immediately evident.  One is that anything that was in a text box such as the contact information and key competencies does not show up!  Secondly, any bullet points show up as question marks.  It's a bit of a mess with random spaces and gaps everywhere. 

As part of your job search, you need to have a good plain text resume ready to be copied and pasted into any Applicant Tracking System. Recently, an IT hiring manager shared that he found it quite frustrating when applicants did not take the time to correctly format their plain text resume applications. He found it hard to read the unformatted resumes as there were huge gaps and missing information. 

Here's how to create and format a plain text resume. 

  1. Open up Notepad on your computer.  
  2. Copy and paste your document into Notepad.  If you have text boxes in your resume, you need to copy and paste the information contained in those separately. 
  3. Go to Format and select Word Wrap. 
  4. Put all your headings into capital letters to help them stand out. 
  5. Replace all the question mark bullets with dashes (-) 
  6. Get rid of any awkward spacing. 

Tada da!  Here's your new plain text resume!

At Career Story, we create visually-appealing, content-rich resumes that get noticed. We also provide you with a plain text resume version as part of our resume writing package so you will be prepared to apply anywhere!  If you want help with creating your new resume, contact us at 604-614-3155 or