As technology continues to take over the business world it is changing the face of the traditional resume. With more job postings being listed online, today's job market calls for resumes in a scannable format. In order to maximize the chances of a resume being read you need to know how to optimize the potential of your resume.
It is a good idea to have two versions of a resume. One version should be focused on a hard copy presentation and the second should be scannable. Scanners read plain text only. When formatting a scannable resume remember that it will only scan characters found on a basic keyboard. Typical ASCII characters are asterisk and hyphens. Using other characters will cause the resume to scan incorrectly and possibly unreadable. It is best to keep the fancy resume for face-to-face exchanges while scannable resumes are more useful when mailing or e-mailing.
Scannable resumes highlight a job seeker's experience using keywords, which are nouns, whereas traditional resumes emphasize action verbs. Scannable resumes have a simpler appearance than traditional resumes. Scanned resumes allow employers to do an electronic search using keywords. These keywords are typically nouns and phrases that detail skills and competencies. It is important to include buzzwords and professional jargon, as well as requirements listed in the job ad. Typical searches consist of keywords regarding job titles, skills and responsibilities, acronyms and industry terminology, and education or certification. When using acronyms it is a good idea to include the abbreviated and long form of the word. This will help maximize the number of keyword matches (hits). Another way to maximize the number of keyword matches is to create a keyword summary by taking existing keywords and making a list of synonyms and all forms and tenses of existing keywords. This can be placed at the top or bottom of a resume.
Even though scannable resumes are simpler in appearance there are a lot of guidelines to follow in order for a resume to be most effective.
- Use white space wisely
- Put your name on the first line (this is how your resume will be filed)
- List contact information under name on separate lines
- Use a laser printer when possible for crisp copies
- Use sans serif font (ex. Arial) between 10-14 points
- Avoid underlining, italics, bold, bullets and rule lines
- Use standard 8.5 x 11" white paper stock
- Avoid the use of more than one column
- Do not fold or staple
- Avoid graphics or shading
- Avoid tabs, use space bar to indent
- Avoid parenthesis and brackets
- Have at least 1" margins
- Minimize use of abbreviations
- Use capital letters for headings
Failure to create a resume that a computer can scan easily can decrease your chances of being considered for a position. If the scanner cannot read the resume you risk the chance of being lost in the database forever or never being entered in the first place. The most important aspect of a scannable resume is the format. Once it is in the proper format it is best to focus attention on keywords. These are what will pull your resume from the bunch.
Contributed by: Shannon Broderick
Public Relations Associate, CPAmerica International, Inc.