The Novice Guide to Creating A Plain Text Resume (Including Templates)

Published on: 31 July 2020 Last updated: 31 July 2020 Reading Time: 4 minutes

At some point during your job searching period, you might have realized that one part of the application process requires a plain text resume. These are also recognized as ASCII resumes, and they’re used for submitting job applications online.

If you haven’t got a plain text resume already, you’ll soon learn why it’s important to have one. And how you can create your own to optimize your chances of getting a new job.

In this article, we’ll cover all the fundamentals and give you a step-by-step guide to create your own plain text resume.

Enhancv The Novice Guide to Creating A Plain Text Resume (Including Templates)

What You Need To Know About Plain Text Resumes

A plain text resume is a resume written and saved in plain text file formatting – (.txt).

It contains no visual design elements, no graphics, italics, bold font, or bullet points.

Plain text resumes are used to respond to a job posting that requests for you to send your application online via email or website.

There are a few benefits of having a plain text resume such as:

  • Some jobs on websites will only want plain text resume applications
  • Plain text resumes are easy to forward and send on emails
  • Job recruiters may prefer plain text resumes
  • Good readability and scannable for the ATS (Applicant Tracking System)

Recommended read: Successful Resumes – real resumes that got people hired at top companies

Why Should You Use Plain Text Resumes?

As mentioned, one of the benefits of having a plain text resume is that it makes it easier for the Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

Instead of having to spend extra time and effort into creating one last minute, it’s worth having one prepared in your arsenal just in case employers might ask for one.

But there are 2 main reasons why you should always have a plain text resume ready:

  1. Employers could request for one
  1. Job postings online mean that the information on your file will be extracted which either: you’d have to edit it again because of formatting issues, or if you use a plain text resume format where your information can be taken easily by the software or bot, then you won’t have to edit it again

These scanners function at its best with plain text resumes because they have no formatting.

Usually, bigger companies with large operations will use an ATS to scan your resume to see if you’ve got what they’re looking for. It makes sense since it increases efficiency and saves more time. It’s also another reason why it’s important to personalize every resume you send and include the relevant keywords and phrases.

You may also be requested to send your application through the body of an email. The reason for this is to avoid catching a virus, in case they’re present.

Recommended read: Are There Enough Remote Entry-Level Jobs? Here’s What 10,800 Postings Say

4 Easy Steps To Create A Plain Text Resume

  1. Don’t Forget The Basic Information

The usual first step for every resume, don’t forget to include all the basic pieces of information that are needed:

  • Contact details
  • Career Overview
  • Education
  • Work Experience

However, rather than having to start completely fresh, you could edit an existing resume. Just ensure that it’s tailored for the job you’re applying for, and delete any graphical designs or visual elements there.

  1. Use the ‘Plain Text Resume’ Formatting

Open up your word document program, press the ‘save as’ button, and then save the document as .txt file (plain text).

This way, your document is going to convert correctly into the right format that we want. And not something else that’s not in line with what the job recruiters are asking for.

  1. Tailor Your Plain Text Resume for Job Board Postings

Remove all bullet points or design elements because they won’t properly convert. This also includes removing references to the next page (if it contains more than one) and quotation marks unless they’re straight quotation marks – (‘’).

If you’ve made a list using bullet points, just replace them with one of these characters:

  • (-)
  • (>)
  • (*)

Any headings that you might have, change them to all caps so they’re identified as headings on your plain text resume.

To check how your resume appears, widen your editing screen and ensure it still looks somewhat similar to one of your existing resumes.

  1. Tailor Your Plain Text Resume for Emails

Sometimes when you’re sending your plain text resume through email, it won’t translate into a high readability format. Here’s what you would need to do:

  1. Change the font you’re using to courier, size 12 pt
  1. Use margins from the page layout option – set at 1 inch on the left, and 1.75 inches on the right. This way you avoid incorrect formatting and ensure you’re sticking to 65 characters per line

Additional Tips

  • Don’t use the tab button because it changes once the document converts, just use the spacebar for spaces
  • Only use the keys on your keyboard and nothing else, this keeps the formatting secure
  • Use margins to make sure you’re keeping to 65 characters per line (stick to courier font)
  • Avoid using colors, keep it simple and stick only to black and white

Use This Resume Template Below to Start Securing Your New Job Position!

Each Enhancv template is easy to convert to a TXT format, however with the Classic Single-Column, you won’t take your time into changing colours, adding too many icons or rearranging sections. It’s already simple enough to make the switch to a plain text format a breeze.

Enhancv The Novice Guide to Creating A Plain Text Resume (Including Templates)

START WITH THIS TEMPLATE

Conclusion

Plain text resumes are designed specifically for sending your job applications online. So having one ready can come in handy, especially when employers may ask for one at the very last minute!

As you’ve probably realized, they’re significantly different from the usual resumes you would expect. Although it’s not too difficult to create, it does require a little push and a bit of extra technical work because the formatting needs to be changed.

What other types of resumes do you want to see us cover for you? Let us know in the comments below!

Kal Dimitrov

Kal has 10 years of experience as a marketer and lecturer in youth leader organisations, with a focus on career and job skills enhancement. He has written and edited over 100 resume creation guides for different jobs. Kal is also a co-founder of a career accelerator hub that helps students and recent graduates excel at job interviews and get the job of their dreams.

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