Creating Your LinkedIn Profile and Plain Text Resume

When submitting to job sites/boards, etc., you'll want two versions of your resume. A plain-text version, and a Word or PDF "pretty" version. The plain text version is the one you can copy directly into the job board or text box.

Electronic submissions are processed through software called an Applicant Tracking System, or ATS. For best results with this type of system, you need a plain text version of your resume that can be copy/pasted into online job boards and company application systems. Creating a plain text version or ASCII version, is quite simple.

ASCII (pronounced "askee") stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange and can be read by most systems. To save your hard-copy version as an ASCII version, open the document in your word program and "Save as" a plain-text file (a .txt extension). Use a new file name to help you find it later, even though it will have the .txt extension. If you see a pop-up option box, check the MS-DOS option.

Keep the file open, and highlight all of the text (ctrl + A). Right-click on the mouse, scroll down, and click on “remove styles.” Change the font to Courier, size 12. Change the heading information so that it is stacked, rather than spread across the top. If needed, left-justify all information in the document, get rid of any tables, and remove any tabbed spaces. Change any bolded, italicized, or underlined characters to normal text. Also look for special characters such as apostrophes and quotes, changing those to straight quotes rather than curved. Those can be found under the Symbols option.

If you have added a picture graphic in the form of a line, delete it. You can add a line using a keyboard character. Generally speaking, any character that you create with the keyboard can be used in an ASCII document, but stick to the simpler ones to be safe. A line of separation can be created by using a series of dashes, asterisks, periods, or the tilde sign. For bulleted items, do not try to make any wrap-around text line up with the sentence above it by using the space bar. In other words, let your text wrap around naturally, and use hard returns (the "Enter" key) to create space between sections or paragraphs (but not within paragraphs).

If your résumé is longer than one page, delete all the headers that state your name and subsequent page numbers. In the pasted version, the recipient will not know if your original résumé was one page or more. However, the recipient will not be able to view the entire résumé in an e-mail screen. He or she will need to scroll down to read further. This means that, similar to your hard copy version, you should highlight your qualifications near the top of the résumé. Make your reader want to see more.

Because there are times when a real person will read the plain text version, such as when copy/pasting into an email, use some "embellishments" to offset sections, such as using dashes above and below the different sections, ALL CAPS, etc. For example:

--------------------------------

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

--------------------------------

==========

SECTION BREAK

==========

*************

SECTION BREAK

*************

Additional designs can be created using keyboard functions, such as:

**  Bullet point.

# Bullet point.

= Bullet point

Combinations of characters can be used to create a nice visual effect as well if they are not overdone.

When you are done reformatting, close the document and reopen it. The file will open in Notepad, and you can double check for any odd formatting issues. At this point, look for any odd-looking characters that may be left over, such as question marks. Change these as needed, save your changes, and you have a plain document that you can use online. The document should be ready to use at this point. However, you may want to give your ASCII résumé a test drive by copy/pasting it into an email and sending it to yourself. When copy/pasting into job board and application sites, give the resume another review to look for odd spacing and characters. These can be cleaned up before hitting submit.

Most sites will also allow you to upload the "pretty" Word or PDF version in addition to the copy/pasted plain text version, so create a new plain text version each time you update your resume. This will ensure the information matches.

Creating a Linked In Starting Point

You can use your plain text resume to create a starting point for your LinkedIn profile. Keep in mind that additional information will be needed, and it is a good idea to change the phrasing to include the first-person pronouns (“I”). Because LinkedIn is a networking site, the overall tone of provides is a little less formal and more conversational, while still remaining professional. Present yourself as you would at an in-person networking event. However, you can save some time by starting with your resume as you begin filling in the fields in LinkedIn.

Before you begin populating the sections, change the settings so updates will not be sent out until you are done. (Click on Profile, then Edit Profile; in the right dropdown menu, at the bottom, change “Notify your network?” to No.) That way, you can update in stages, without all of your contacts being notified about each change as you make updates. Once you are done making major changes, you can turn notifications back on so important updates will be sent out to your network.

Begin by opening the plain text version of your resume and saving it as an .rtf file. Then, change all the fonts to Verdana so it will copy/paste into the LinkedIn profile. From there, you can begin populating the various sections in LinkedIn. Some of the headers and section titles will need to be changed or removed, so take care when copy/pasting, making those types of adjustments as you go. (That way, you won’t have to try to remember for later.) Once the information is included, go through the entire profile to make further adjustments and changes, such as changing the phrasing to be more conversational, particularly in the Summary section. Much of your work history will likely remain the same or require few changes.

The profile can also be a good place to include additional information that you might leave off of your resume for various reasons. Including additional information, such as volunteer work, memberships, and so forth can help create a well-rounded profile, which in turn can result in more hits when others are searching. A completed profile ranks higher than one that is not completed.

Also, consider including a photo, and choose one that is professional and appropriate. Others are more likely to respond to requests from you if you have included a nice image and have a full profile. Incomplete profiles, and those without photos, tend to look more “suspect,” even if they are legitimate profiles. Here again, you are aiming to present a professional image, which includes a nice-looking profile.

Once you have uploaded information to the main sections, you can then go back and make adjustments to your profile so it is more LinkedIn friendly, but these initial steps can help save valuable time. This process also helps ensure that the information in your resume is consistent with that in your LinkedIn profile. You will likely use your profile extensively during the job search and ongoing networking process, and consistency is important for important sections such as work experience. Then, use additional sections to add information that does not fit on the resume.