February in our College of Business is most noted for Internship Mania, the day businesses from all over the region come to the university to recruit students for various internships.
“Mania” may be a bit of an understatement, as what used to be a simple review of students’ printed résumés in preparation for the event has become a complex discussion of what résumés they need in their “résumé arsenal” to be prepared in today’s market.
I tell my students to have their résumé in four formats: Microsoft® Word, .pdf, HTML, and plain text. When we have this discussion in class, many students worry that they lack the technology (other than Word) to get their résumés in these formats. The technology, however, is readily available and easy to use.
Of course, formatting a résumé in Word or as a .pdf file is useful when sending a résumé as an email attachment. Many students already know that to save a file as a .pdf, they need to use Word’s (2007) “Save As” feature. For those without the ability to save files as .pdf, downloading CutePDF is a free and convenient way to convert documents to .pdf format.
More puzzling to students is why they need plain-text or HTML résumés and how they create them.
Plain Text Résumés
Plain text résumés are useful for posting to an online job database. They may also be required by employers who electronically scan the information to screen applicants or to get the information into a database for later use.
To create a plain-text file, students need to open their formatted résumés in Word, go to the “Save As” feature, and choose the plain text format. Once the résumé is in this format, students should re-format the text as follows:
- Create a “KEYWORDS” section at the beginning. The keywords should be nouns that capture the student’s best characteristics related to the job. A quick online search for scannable résumés provides many examples.
- Use nouns from the job ad in the keywords section (assuming, of course, that the noun is an accurate representation of the student’s skills or qualities).
- Create a lot of white space so that scanners don’t become “confused” by a lack of space between letters and words. My preference is to use a sans serif font such as Arial to further increase the white space between letters.
- Use minimal text formatting. Scanners will usually read capital letters or bold text but become confused by italics. Many creators of plain-text résumés will use asterisks (*) rather than bullets to set off a list. Avoid tables, tabs, centering, and graphics.
Not knowing HTML code need not be a stumbling block for creating a Web-based, HTML resume. Many free sites exist for helping students create their résumés as Web pages. Among these sites are
These resources enable students to create résumés and have them stored at that site so students do not have to worry about finding a host for their pages. Students can then share their resumes electronically with anyone as they wish. Students may also consider using LinkedIn to create a profile that serves as their résumé.
The possibilities are many. Though plain-text résumés and HTML résumés have been around for a while, they are no longer a luxury or the privilege of those who are tech savvy enough to create them; they are a necessity for today’s job seekers.