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Format Your Resumé for Submission

When you’ve finished writing, proofing and polishing your resumé, it’s time to decide which format to use when you send it to the employer.

The employer may ask you to send your resumé in one of the following formats:

It’s important to comply with the employer’s requirements. At the very least, it shows you can follow directions. Sending your resumé in the wrong format may mean that your application will not be accepted.

Formatting your resumé as a email attachment

  • Use standard business word processing software. Most employers who ask you to send your resumé as an email attachment are capable of receiving a Microsoft Word document. If you aren’t sure what kind of attachment to send, ask the employer.
  • Save your resumé as a Microsoft Word document in a .doc, .rtf or .pdf format. A resumé in this format also looks acceptable as a faxed or printed document.
  • Make sure the document is not password protected.
  • Keep underlines, graphics and italics to a minimum, in case the resumé is uploaded into an applicant software management system. Check out these examples of well-designed Microsoft Word resumés.
  • Attach your resumé to a cover email.

Some career books and articles tell you to embed your resumé in an email. This advice is out of date. Currently, an attached Microsoft Word document is the standard in Alberta.

Formatting your resumé to be faxed or printed

  • Use good quality, 8.5 x 11 inch paper.
  • Make sure all copies are clean and bright.
  • Use white or buff paper. Avoid coloured or textured paper.
  • Paper clip, rather than staple, the pages together.
  • Don’t bind your resumé unless the employer requests it.
  • Don’t fold your resumé.
  • Mail your resumé in a 9 x 12 inch envelope.
  • Fax the original in fine mode, if possible.
  • Keep underlines, graphics and italics to a minimum, in case the resumé is scanned into an applicant software management system. Check out these examples of well-designed Microsoft Word resumés.
  • Send your resumé with a cover letter.

Formatting your resumé as a plain text document

ASCII (American Standard Code of Information Interchange), also known as plain text, is so basic it can be read by every operating system:

  • You can cut and paste from an ASCII resumé directly into many online application forms.
  • You can upload your ASCII resumé to employer and job search websites.
  • Use standard fonts such as Times, Arial or Courier.
  • Don’t use graphics, shading, tabs or columns.
  • Avoid bolds, underlines and italics.
  • Use asterisks rather than bullets.
  • Align the text to the left margin.
  • Save a copy of your resumé document by renaming the copy and use the save as function to save it as plain text (.txt).

See a sample of an ASCII resumé (PDF).

Alternative resumé formats

Many Alberta employers currently tend to view resumés in alternative formats, such as DVDs, CDs, videos and websites, as non-standard. They will not visit a website, click through a menu or wait for a download in order to view your resumé.

Unless you’re in a creative field like design, web design or communications, it’s probably best to submit your resumé in a familiar, easily accessible format.

If you think an alternative format resumé is the best way to present your qualifications:

  • talk about this approach with people in your industry. Ask for their advice.
  • submit your resumé in a standard format and include your alternate format resumé as part of your portfolio.
  • avoid using your image in the resumé unless you’re in a field such as broadcasting. Because of human rights concerns, many Alberta employers prefer to assess your qualifications without knowing details about your gender, age, race and so on.
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