The assorted finds of Artefact Publishing

File formats and “business standards”

I am currently looking for work, which means sending my CV off to various people. Now, my CV is written in LaTeX and is a thing of beauty. When I send it out to people, I send it either as PostScript or PDF. And then, it invariably occurs that someone asks me to send it in Word format.

So, I try to import the PDF into Writer, knowing that I can then save it as Word from there. Only it doesn’t work. latex2rtf doesn’t work either, as it doesn’t recognise the style I use. Finally I just copy the text into Writer, format it, and save it as Word. Which is a massive waste of time.

What would be useful is some way of specifying the content in a structured way, and an optional set of suggestions for presenting that content. Wait, where have I heard that before? And indeed, there is the XML Résumé Library, which is an XML and XSL based system for marking up, adding metadata to, and formatting résumés and curricula vitae. Oh, the joy of creating a functional CV from a (presumably non-functional) CV simply by using a stylesheet!

I once had a boss who claimed that Word was a business standard, and therefore not a bad thing to use. I disagreed then, I disagree now, and in the realm of CVs there are so many more worthy alternatives that it is madness to hold on to a proprietary format.

Posted by jamie on July 1, 2003 13:08+12:00


my dear j

you seem to have a perfectly reliable web server running there - I'm curious as to why you're "sending off" CVs in the first place. Especially given the kind of work that you're quite likely looking for.

Just whack it up in HTML and they can come and get it for themselves (the lazy feckers).

Posted by: brendon on July 2, 2003 10:00+12:00

And if they want it in Word come hell or high weather, is that not a reasonable indication that they aren't the sort of outfit you'd want to work for?

Posted by: Michael on July 2, 2003 11:10+12:00

Michael, it is an indication, but not a guarantee — and in this case it doesn’t relate at all because it was the recruitment consultants who wanted it in Word format, not (necessarily) the people with the vacancy.

Brendon, I’m planning on doing that soon, though I doubt recruitment companies would be amenable to that, even if the company wanting to employ someone is. Sad but likely true.

I’ve had a closer look at the XML Résumé Library, and their DTD seems sadly lacking (no explicit catering for volunteer experience, non-work experience, released software (!), among others). Perhaps I should work on the project while I’m unemployed (which is the case for most of the developers on the project, apparently).

Posted by: Jamie on July 2, 2003 11:26+12:00