Make your resume scannable

Most job applications are now done electronically, and most employers, no matter the job level, request a resume from the candidates. Have you ever wondered why employers would request resumes from all candidates, when it can be extremely time consuming to review them all? Employers don’t actually review every resume they receive; companies use various software to scan the resumes they receive for key words and content specific to their available positions. Typically, this is the first round of resume review. Your resume has to make it pass the computer-generated scan in order to make it into the hands of the hiring manager.

While your resume may be well-written and well-formatted, it may not be scannable. This may be the reason why you are not receiving calls from potential employers, even if you have great qualifications for the job. To make your resume scannable, follow these tips:
• Special formatting may cause certain letters in words to touch, and blend into one character. This is especially the case if a word is bolded or italicized. Make sure that you review your resume and revise any parts where letters are joined together, so that the words can be scanned.
• Font type and font size are very important for both your printed and electronic resume. When the resume is scanned, it is important that the font is recognizable by the software. Stick to the basic fonts, such as Ariel and Times New Roman, and to the basic font size, such as 10 or 12 points.
• Do not underline words or phrases in your resume. In an electronic format, underlining implies that the text links to another document or a web site. Additionally, do not have any lines in the resume that touch the text, as this will prevent the resume from being scannable.
• All the text in your resume should read from left to right in order for your resume to be scannable. No special formatting, such as tables, or columns, should be contained within your electronic resume.
• Do not use special characters that may not be recognized by scanning software. This includes special formatting of bullets, use of ampersands or percent signs, copyright signs, or any other characters that may not be easily recognizable by scanning software. If you are quantifying information on your resume, make sure to spell out the percentage instead of using “%” as you are indicating increase in sales, for example. Whenever possibly, avoid using signs or special characters in your resume.
• Even if you submit a printed resume, the document may be scanned for key words to match your qualifications with available positions. It is very important that your submission is on plain white paper, in basic font type and size. If you are submitting multiple pages, make sure that all the pages are numbered, with your name in the top left corner. Do not staple multiple pages. If you do so, only the top page will be scanned.
• The most important element of a scannable resume is the selection of active keywords, or power words. Do your research and make sure that you use the appropriate keywords in your resume that apply toward the position you are seeking. Having appropriate keywords throughout your resume makes it easier for the software to find matches when scanning the document. Helpful tip: review the employer’s job requirements for keywords. What are the required qualifications for the job? Make sure that your resume contains the same terminology as that on the job description, without direct copying of the text, of course. When your resume is scanned, the software will pick up these key words and you can be one step closer to landing your dream job.