How many horses should be pulling that résumé cart?

I'd suggest at least two. You've got your Plough Horse (the scanable, aesthetically-bland format for an applicant database), and you have your Show Pony (the one you parade in an interview that just looks dazzling and makes you feel good). I'm talking about formats or structures here, so as not to be confused with different versions of your resume (when applying to different positions/job families).


While the Plough Horse format might look bland, it is dependable (will retain its structure and format). Although it will survive a database cut/paste or upload, it actually isn't too quick to read. Some of you might think I've been inhaling too many horse fertilizer fumes, but bear with me here.

The Show Pony doesn't like to do menial work (properly retain its formatting when scanned), it just likes to strut in front of an audience (at an interview). You could try submitting it in rtf or pdf formats, but there's still some risk that it will turn out a bit jumbled.

Believe it or not, the Show Pony is useful, as the sections are salient so whoever is reading it can easily find what you're trying to highlight a lot easier than what they printed out from the applicant database. I've sat in many interviews as a candidate where I've seen the recruiter struggling to read through the Plough Horse version (since I couldn't upload the Show Pony) and quickly handed them the Show Pony, saying, "Here, please take a clean copy." I've always received a positive response.

Formatting your résumé so it looks pretty is not a waste of time; it increases cognitive flow. After all, you wouldn't bring your Plough Horse to compete in a "My Pretty Pony" contest!

Below are examples** of the Plough Horse & Show Pony.

**These are just suggestions, NOT ultimate definitions of how all résumés must look. There are other styles for the Show Pony and other "save as" versions for the Plough Horse. The two below are just ones that have worked for me.

I hope this gives you a good start! For those computer smarties out there, feel free to send me any methods you know of to ensure secure formatting. You'll be given many thanks and mention in an addendum blog!

This is a partial example of a Show Pony format for an experienced candidate (don't want to give away the whole farm here).

Here's the dependable Plough Horse:

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Comment by Will Branning on May 25, 2010 at 8:37pm
I agree the Plough Horse is a bit hard to understand - it is definitely a better "interview resume"


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