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Designing a Scannable Resume

by ResumeEdge.com - The Net's Premier Resume Writing and Editing Service


What happens when you create a beautiful paper resume and mail or fax it to a company that scans resumes into a computerized database instead of forwarding it to a hiring manager for review? It ends up in cyberspace instead of on someone's desk. This automated process requires some special design considerations in order to make your resume scanner friendly, which is what this section addresses.

According to U.S. News & World Report, more than 1,000 unsolicited resumes arrive every week at most Fortune 500 companies, and before the days of applicant tracking systems and resume scanning, 80 percent were thrown out after a quick review. It was simply impossible to keep track of that much paper. As companies downsize and human resource departments become smaller, it is even more important to manage the job application and screening processes in an efficient manner.

Today, nearly half of all mid-sized companies and almost all large companies are scanning resumes and using computerized applicant tracking systems (still just 30 percent of all job openings, though). Some smaller companies turn to service bureaus to manage their scanning or to recruiters who scan resumes because of the volume of resumes they receive every day. If you are sending your resume to one of these companies and your paper resume is not formatted in such a way that a scanner can read it, the words won't be spelled right. And, if the words aren't spelled right, a keyword search will never turn up your resume.

This section is devoted to helping you avoid the pitfalls that commonly cause a resume to scan poorly. This includes choosing the right fonts, laying out the text of your resume in such a way that it is scanner friendly, selecting the right paper color, etc. With these guidelines, your resume will be ready for a hiring manager's computerized keyword search.

If you would rather not worry about whether your resume is scannable, then simply send your formatted resume (styled any way you like) along with an unformatted (ASCII text) resume. Your recipient will then have a choice whether to scan the "ugly" one or to send the formatted one to the hiring manager for review. You can never go wrong when you send both styles.

From Designing the Perfect Resume, by Pat Criscito.
Copyright 2000.  Reprinted by arrangement with Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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