Electronic applicant tracking is being used by leading businesses and organizations. Resumes are scanned into the computer as an image. Then artificial intelligence “reads” the text and extracts important information about you such as your name, address, phone number, work history, years of experience, education and skills. Many employers will state in the job ad to send a scannable resume. Be alert for this information in the ad and do not hesitate to inquire if a scannable resume is needed.
Recruiters and managers access a resume database in many ways, when searching for specific experience, they will search for key words, usually nouns such as “writer”, “BA”, “marketing”, “C++”, “Society of Technical Communications”, “Spanish” (language fluency), “San Diego”, etc. So make sure you describe your experience with concrete words rather than vague descriptions.
NOTE: The computer system will extract words and information from your statements; you can write your resume as usual.
The computer can extract skills from many styles of resumes such as chronological (list and describe up to 6 jobs in order by date), achievement (describes achievements rather than job titles), functional (organize by skills rather than job titles), and combinations of resume styles.
The most difficult resume for the computer to read is a poor quality copy that has an unusual format such as newsletter layout, adjusted spacing, large font sizes, graphics or lines, type that is too light, or paper that is too dark.
Tips for Maximizing Scannability
- Do not fold or staple.
- Use white or light-colored 8 1/2 x 11 paper, printed on one side only.
- Use a laser printer.
- Use standard typefaces such as Helvetica, Futura, Optima, Univers, Times, Palatino, New Century Schoolbook and Courier. Avoid Serif fonts. Use a font size of 10 to 14 points. (Avoid Times 10 point)
- Do not condense spacing between letters.
- Use boldface and/or all capital letters for section headings as long as the letters do not touch each other.
- Avoid fancy treatments such as italics, underlining, shadows and reverses (white letters on black background).
- Avoid horizontal and vertical lines, graphics and boxes.
- Avoid two-column format or resumes that look like newspapers or newsletters.
- Place your name at the top of the page on its own line. Your name can be up to 32 points in size. Use standard address format below your name.
- list each phone number on its own line.
The computer extracts information from your resume. You can use your current resume; however, once you understand what the computer searches for, you may decide to add a few key words to increase your opportunities for matching requirements or getting “hits.”
Tips for Maximizing “Hits”:
- Use enough key words to define your skills, experience, education, professional affiliations, etc.
- Describe your experience with concrete words rather than vague descriptions. For example, it is better to use “managed a team of software engineers” than “responsible for managing, training…”
- Be concise and truthful.
- Use more than one page if necessary. The computer can easily handle multiple-page resumes, and it uses all of the information it extracts from your resume to determine if your skills match available positions. It allows you to provide more information than you would for a human reader.
- Use jargon and acronyms specific to your industry. (Spell out acronyms for human readers.)
- Increase your list of key words by including specifics, for example, list the names of software you use such as Microsoft Word and Lotus 1-2-3.
- Use common headings such as: Objective, Experience, Employment, Work History, Positions Held, Appointments, Skills, Summary, Summary of Qualifications, Accomplishments, Strengths, Education, Affiliations, Professional Affiliations, Publications, Papers, Licenses, Certifications, Examinations, Honors, and References.