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How to Generate a Plain-Text Résumé for Your Job Search

Many organizations persist in using outdated applicant-tracking systems (ATS) when hiring job applicants. An ATS electronically handles the whole recruitment process, from sorting large amounts of résumé information to providing a platform for recruiters to leave notes and hand off candidates.

Chances are you’ll have to apply online using one of these systems at some point. And rather than just letting you link to your LinkedIn profile, it asks you to upload a plain-text résumé.

But when you created your résumé, you probably spent at least 50 percent of the time worrying about how it looks. If you upload it to an ATS with all its text boxes, headlines, and bullets, it would actually look quite bad as plain text.

So even if you have a nice-looking résumé, you also need to have handy a drab, plain-text version. Don’t worry — it’s super simple to convert.

  1. Open your finished résumé in Word or another word processor.

  2. Copy all the text in the document.

  3. Paste the text into a simple text-editing program (Notepad for PC and TextEdit for Mac).

    If you’re using a Mac, convert the pasted text to plain text.

  4. Spend some time cleaning up any odd formatting, like bullet points that disappeared, odd spacing, or reordering.

  5. Reapply some formatting you need to make it look good in plain text. Here are some tips:

    • Make headlines pop by using all caps or enclosing them in a few asterisks.

    • Use five spaces instead of tabs to measure your indent.

    • Use asterisks to replace bullet points.

    • Change columns to a linear flow and take advantage of line breaks and white spaces.

  6. Save the completed file as a plain text document (.txt)

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