This is ASCII Art – drawing images with only the 255 characters you can type into your computer. ASCII CVs, it turns out, are the ones scanners love to read!



“A what CV?”

Quite. Well increasingly, as you may have heard, larger employers are having more and more of their initial selection processes conducted by computers.

While computers can read pretty well, it turns out they are better at reading ASCII than they are at reading Microsoft Word and PDF documents.

The following article was written by Angie Maizlish who does a fantastic job of explaining exactly what you need to do to convert to ASCII. Of course, this doesn’t remove the need for your regular CV, this is just in case you are asked for ASCII!

Chances are, if you have submitted your resume to a recruiter or a job bank, you’ve been asked to create an ASCII version. ASCII (pronounced “as-kee”) is short for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. In short, converting a document to ASCII format enables it to be read by electronic eyes. ??WHY CONVERT TO ASCII?

With today’s technology, recruiters, job banks, and a rising number of employers are making use of resume scanning systems to input, track, and search incoming resumes. Although many job boards indicate that you can upload your résumé in Word, Career Directors International highly recommends uploading the Notepad (ASCII) résumé saved on your disk. Although their system may be programmed to convert your Word résumé to ASCII, it will not clean up the document by correcting line breaks, inappropriate symbols and other formatting issues. To read text accurately, a scanning system requires the pica and font to be clear and legible. Recommended fonts include Courier 10 Pitch, Courier New, and Monaco because they don’t utilize long tails, slant, or dramatize the size of each letter.??GOING FROM BEAUTIFUL TO BLAH

Converting a resume to ASCII format is a simple process, once you follow these steps:??Step One…In your word processor document, set your margins so that you have 6.5 inches of text displayed. In other words, set your margins at 0 and 65, or set the right margin at 6.5 inches. Then, end each line after 65 characters by pressing the Enter key to insert line breaks.

Step Two…Compose a résumé from scratch or open an existing résumé in your word processor.

Step Three…Select all of the text, and then select a font that is non-proportional 12 pitch, such as Courier 12. This will give you 65 characters per line, which will accommodate most e-mail programs.

Step Four…Save your résumé as a “text only” file with “line breaks.” NOTE: if you have been instructed to use “hard” carriage returns at the end of paragraphs instead of lines, save as “text only” without the line breaks.

Step Five…Open this new file in Notepad, or any other text editor that you can cut and paste text into. Most operating systems have a text editor.

Step Six…Review your résumé in the text editor. Notepad lets you view your résumé as it will most likely be viewed by the recipient. It will automatically convert proportional fonts to a fixed font if you did not select one earlier, and it will indicate what part of your text are unsupported ASCII characters such as bullets or underlining.

Step Seven…Replace all unsupported characters with their ASCII equivalent. For example, bullets created in Microsoft Word 6.0 or 7.0 appear as a question mark when opened in Notepad. They can be replaced with asterisks or hyphens. Any character found on your keyboard is an ASCII-equivalent character. If you see long lines of text in your editor, use Notepad’s word wrap feature under the Edit menu. This feature inserts “hard” returns, allowing you to format the résumé to meet specified margins. If you have been instructed to enter hard carriage returns at the end of paragraphs instead of lines, then do not use this word wrap feature.

Step Eight…Copy and paste the text of the résumé into the body of a test e-mail message, once you are satisfied with the way it looks in your text editor. You will notice that your resume, in Notepad, is not as “pretty” as it was before. That’s because it is now plain text. All special formats, like bolding and italicizing, have been removed, as have any graphics or other non-text elements. (Now you know why it is called “plain” text!) This is a good thing! At least, for e-mail, it is. You can, and should, take some steps to improve the way ASCII text looks. It still won’t be beautiful, but it will be more acceptable. ??Have a friend or colleague check the resume for conversion issues. A person can miss formatting issues when looking at their own resume file. The first few times you do this, it is best to send an email to yourself and few other people with the ASCII resume as an attachment. Ask them to open the ASCII resume attachment to ensure the file changes saved properly.??FOR SCANNING…Print the file. Proofread resume and use the hard copy as scannable resume. Print scannable resumes on white paper only and only send originals.

FOR EMAILING…To e-mail, open a new MS Browser e-mail message and put cursor in the body of the e-mail message; use the “insert text file” command to import MS Notepad resume file. Check resume again to make sure it doesn’t have any errors and if so, correct them.

FOR POSTING TO RESUME BANKS…Visit each employer’s website online resume builder form. Open MS Notepad file and copy and paste appropriate sections from Notepad file into the online resume builder form. The résumé may appear in a text box (if one is provided) or you may be able to view it after you complete the application.

Angie Maizlish, Owner of First Impressions Career and Resume Service, CEIP, CPRW  has been helping clients win interviews and manage their careers for over 15 years. Contact her at