How Different Resume Formats Can Benefit Your Job Search
Long gone is the day when a neatly printed Word résumé served all purposes of a high-impact job search. With the growth of technology and new venues used by recruiting personnel, a variety of new résumé formats have come into play. Which formats should you be using? What’s appropriate and when?

Here is a guide to some of the more popular formats that can help you in making these determinations:

Word Format: The basic is still essential and acts as the root document. It should be used for printing out résumés for taking into interviews and for “snail mailing.” It can also be downloaded to various sites when applying online.

ASCII/Plain Text Format: A plain text version is needed for pasting into textboxes when applying online for jobs. You can copy and paste a Word résumé, but you will find that you need to “fix” the résumé each time, deleting tabs, left justifying text, and replacing erroneous characters inserted in place of those not supported in plain text (such as apostrophes). This can be quite time consuming.

Instead, take your Word résumé, save as (under type) Plain Text and choose US-ASCII in the options that pop up. “Fix” it once and give the document two inch left and right margins. Save the changes, and you now have a plain text version you can easily copy and paste into textboxes.

PDF Format: This format is an advantage when you need to email a résumé. PDF format is essentially a picture of a document, so it cannot be altered. A Word document can change when emailed. Different computer systems may not recognize specialized fonts and section dividers. A received email document may look quite a bit different from what was originally sent. I witnessed a résumé created in a font not supported by the computer of the email account it was sent to. The font had turned into large italics, destroying the style and professional look of the document.

To create a PDF, you either need PDF creation software or you can go to where you can create up to five PDF documents for free. After developing your PDF, you can save it to your files.

Video Format: This allows you to tell your story rather than have someone read it. It’s particularly effective if you have excellent presentation skills and can come across as visually appealing. However, it is not well accepted by all employers. Some prefer the more traditional ways. Some see it as conflicting with equal employment opportunity concerns.

Web Format: Certainly not for all job seekers, but a web résumé can be very impressive for someone seeking to highlight technical skills. Text can be linked to other websites, as well as to scanned certificates and other proof of accomplishments for enhanced credibility.

A recent development is the VisualCV format (, which combines the advantages of the video and web résumé formats. Privacy level can be controlled and a PDF is simultaneously created.

Appropriate use of the different résumé formats can increase the breadth and efficiency of a job search. Creating different formats takes time and commitment, but can be seen as part of our transitioning into 21st century job search. Technology has increased the speed with which we can reach each other, but we need to use the technology wisely to ensure the message received was the one intended.