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The Scannable Resume

Creating a computer-friendly resume can be extremely beneficial to your job search

  • A wide range of companies now use scanning software to manage the resumes they receive.
  • Opportunities abound for posting resumes on the World Wide Web.
  • Getting your resume out to the world via computer can expand its reach dramatically, connecting you to perhaps millions of perspective employers.

It's important to know how to write a scannable resume

  • Everything must be capable of being read by Optical Character Recognition.
  • Your resume should be printed with black ink on plain paper. An acceptable length for a resume is one to two pages.
  • Scanners are unable to read special typefaces or graphics, such as italics, underlining, columns, boxes and shading.
  • Each sheet should include your contact information on it.
  • Mail your standard-sized resume unfolded in a large, flat envelope.
  • The computer will read only what it's programmed to read.
  • Catch the employer's attention. Always know what employers are looking for in an applicant so that you may use nouns and short phrases with key words describing your knowledge, skills, abilities and experience in order to make an employer take notice.
  • Be specific - state that you have accounts payable experience - don't just say that you completed accounting principles.
  • Effective keywords for an electronic resume can be found in want ads, job descriptions, annual reports and professional organizations within your industry.
  • Insider information can be ascertained by networking.
  • The language in your resume should be clear and simple to increase the quality of the scan.

Resume Format

  • The most effective electronic resume format is a combination of chronological and functional.
  • Each employer's name should be used as a heading of a section.
  • List your position titles below the employer's name.
  • Qualifications should be written beneath each title in three to five clear, strong statements.
  • Use bullets to demonstrate what you've accomplished and could do again for a new employer (quantify results).
  • Demonstrate that you qualify and are the best candidate for the job.
  • Try to ensure that both the computer and the employer will choose you.

Education Section

Divide into three categories:

  • Degrees earned through formal education
  • Relevant training and continuing education
  • Formal licenses and certifications

Advantages of a Scannable Resume

  • On average employers spend about ten to 30 seconds skimming a conventional resume to determine whether to read it more carefully later.
  • Electronic resume programs are fast and more accurate than the human eye.
  • Choosing the right keyword ensures your resume is far more likely to be chosen for further review after a computer scan.
  • Scanning programs can hold resumes until they run out of memory.
  • Chances of getting an interview are better if your resume is already in the computer.
  • Electronic resume databases can be accessed by every recruiter within an organization nationwide.
  • The internet has 1800 employment related sites; scannable resumes are available to staffing professionals via the Internet.
  • Fifteen percent (15%) of executive search firms and 11% of human resource directors scan resumes into databases.
  • The electronic route is the quickest route to connect with hiring managers.

Keep Graphics Simple

Electronic resume scanners adore simplicity. Follow the guidelines below and you can be sure the computer will be able to read your resume and store the information it contains.

  • Use popular, non-decorative typefaces.
  • Eleven or twelve-point fonts on white paper are best for scanning.
  • Use light-colored (white is best), standard-size, 8 ½" x 11" paper.
  • Avoid italic text, script, and underlined passages. Capitalized words and boldface are okay.
  • Avoid graphics and shading. Don't compress space between letters.
  • Avoid horizontal and vertical lines - they confuse the computer.
  • Avoid staples and folds. If you must fold, do not fold on a line of text.
  • Your name should be the first readable item on each page.

It's advisable to have two versions of your resume: one for the human eye, and one for scanning. Offer both versions to recruiters. They'll be impressed by your thoroughness and ability to keep up with the times!