Scannable Resume

In order to efficiently review resumes, many employers use computers to narrow the field of applicants. Resumes may be scanned for key information by a machine, not a human being. Text-searching software and optical scanners are used to search the resume for skills that match a job description

Because computers are programmed to search for certain words, every word in a resume is important. The software "reads" the text and extracts important information. A clear resume allows the scanner to obtain a clean image in order to maximize "hits" when one of your skills matches the computer keyword search

Tips for Writing and Formatting a Scannable Resume:

  • Use a standard typeface such as Courier, Helvetica, Futura, Optima, Universe or Times with a point size of 10-14
  • Use black ink on white 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper
  • Use only capital letters or boldface to emphasize important information; do not use italics, underlining, boxes, graphics, or horizontal or vertical lines
  • Avoid a two-column format or resumes that look like newspapers or newsletters
  • Use keywords, phrases, terms, industry jargon, and titles to describe your abilities. Use both acronyms and complete words, as you don’t know which the software is looking for
  • Tailor your resume to the job announcement when describing your qualifications  
  • If you have space, describe your interpersonal traits and attitude. Key words could include: time management, team player, dependable, leadership, and responsibility
  • Use a keyword summary of your skills at the top of your resume to get the attention of robotic and human inspectors. For example, if you are looking for an entry level position in architecture, your keyword summary might include: BS in Architecture, internship experience with large commercial project, knowledge of AutoCAD, PhotoShop, AccuRender, 3-D Studio
  • Use only a laser-quality printer
  • Place your name on its own line at the top of the page
  • Use the standard format for your address below your name
  • List each phone number on its own line

     - If faxing, use fine resolution and follow up with a mailed (unfolded) original 
     - If mailing, do not fold or staple pages
     - If e-mailing, avoid formatting peculiarities by saving your file as "text only" or   "ASCII." E-mail a copy to yourself first to make sure it looks the way you intend

You will also want to have a version of the resume in the standard resume format, which is easier for people to read, in the event you are called for an interview.

How Employers Use Electronic Applicant Tracking Systems
Typically, hiring personnel set up a search request and tell the computer whether certain qualifications are required or desired. Many resume-scanning systems then rank the candidates they select from the system, indicating how many of the manager's requirements are reflected in the resume. For some employers, this system helps determine which department the resume will be sent to, as well as which resumes will be referred for further (human) review

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