Talk about a standard that isn't one. I've always hated seeing, "Please send us your resume in Word format," as if that were a nice, crossplatform, open standard. Luckily most places also accept plain text resumes, but you miss out on formatting and you, via your resume, look bad, relatively speaking.

To combat this, I usually hack up my resume in MS Word, then save in Rich Text Format. In theory this is a great compromise. My resume or other document looks just like I wanted when opened in Word, which is what they were going to use to open my document anyhow, and I can rest better knowing that pretty much anyone out there, with Word or not, could open up my doc in a non-Microsoft editor if they needed to.

In reality, however, things aren't so rosy. I was busy copying over about 20 gigs of Furthur tunes to my new hard drive yesterday, and my processor was apparently floored by the maneouver. Out comes the iBook for some resume hacking. Long story short, an *.rtf file looks quite a bit differently when swapped between Word, AppleWorks, TextEdit, and AbiWord.

I already knew that -- I'd always ignored it [naively thinking that I could assume, aka] knowing the end user was going to use Word -- but this time I took it as a challenge to make a truly reader independent rtf resume. I couldn't do it. Sometimes underlines would come out, sometimes they wouldn't, depending on what editor had done the latest save. Sometimes margins would work like I liked, sometimes they wouldn't, again, depending on the editor that was doing the saving and which was doing the viewing. I would hack and slash in each editor, one at a time, hoping *this* one would produce the simplest, and most portable, document ,and each time I'd eventually find the editor's archnemesis which would, on one occasion, even duplicate a line of text randomly in a way that no other editor did! I even started from plain text in two editors, and still couldn't get a doc that would appear reasonably the same in all four editors.

And mind you, I wasn't putting in colors or fancy margins or the like. I was simply underlining, making some text appear in italics, and occasionally using all-caps (The caps did work well cross-editor, thankfully).

What's the answer? Oh, that's easy. People need to start saying html resumes are okay. When a job is web-related, it's hard to believe that's not the case already. If you've ever seen all the extra code Word slaps into a doc spit out as html, you know you've got several kilobytes to work your own magic before you're gotten it as bloated as what Bill's folk do. Html with nice, gracefully degrading CSS and Javasciprt -- now that'd be a resume.

But the last thing I'm going to do, though with an rtf I'm awfully close already, is not do as I've been told by the people handing out work. At least I'm pretty sure a user will have rtf's mapped to Word. Sending an html file might be seen as a sign of an inability to follow directions. *sigh*