A CV or resume in plaintext may not look as visually appealing as a PDF with shades of colour, areas of white-space balancing the neatly formatted summary of a working life, but it does come with some benefits.
Having recently dropped my former PDF version, which I should say I’m still happy to send to clients, in favour of a new plaintext version for the website (see footer), I thought I’d note a few of these advantages here.
1. SearchabilityAlthough search engines do crawl PDFs as well as any other text content, the TXT file is not recreated on the many PDF-skimming sites that take and re-host files, most likely displaying the out of date version. Minor victory for control over own content.
2. EleganceAs the simplest expression of bits and bytes to convey a record of achievements and interests, the formatting constraints encourage creative use of space and characters to highlight and separate the various sections. The clarity that can result, the lack of distracting elements and the purity of the information presented can really satisfy the obsessions of any visually appreciative/compulsive person. There is a certain retro quality to the styling, which might also be appreciated by those overloaded with visuals online. This is not the end goal in itself, but would not often be seen as A Bad Thing.
3. SpeedIn theory, with a file size of 2 kb vs 60 kb of the PDF, the text file should load 30 times faster. On office and home broadband connections this will barely be noticed, but on mobile devices and slower connections this could be appreciated. The generous sparing of broadband quotas, although minimal, could also be appreciated by those with limited access.
4. UniversalityNo proprietary reader or plugin is required, enabling all web browsers to access the content in an instant. This, coupled with the last point, works in the spirit of universal access to information. Business-wise this may not have a huge impact, but the concept itself should help to match clients of a similar mindset and appreciation, which could enable more sustainable long-term business relationships.
5. UniquenessIn this dense and colourful weed-patch of visuals and information that is the internet, a plaintext document stands out just like a man stood perfectly still in a train station at rush hour. It’s telling of a need for variety and interest.
That’s all I’ve got off the top of my head, but if you’d like to link me to your plaintext CV in the comments (longshot, I know), I’d be happy to see it.