Creating a Scannable Resume
Types of scanning
It is important to clarify what they mean by 'scanning'. It
is very common for companies to scan your resume and keep it as a graphic
image. Once you have applied to a company you will be entered into their
'applicant-tracking database.' An important part of this database is
allowing any user in the company to access your profile, and view or print
your resume. Your current resume works fine for this system.
Alternatively, some organizations scan the resume then run
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software on it. This software scans the
document, removes any “unwanted” text and then does a key word search. The
resume is essentially ‘graded’ against established criteria, such as a
minimum GPA. The software also counts the number of occurrences of keywords
or phrases such as project management, engineering, profit and loss,
How often will OCR happen?
Internet. It is safe to assume that any time you
complete an on-line registration form on the Internet, or upload a resume
to a public site that it will be scanned with OCR.
MBA PCC. Recruiters who get your resume from the
MBA PCC tend to not scan. At least not initially. Pre-selection is based
on personally reading your resume and meeting you. At some point later in
the process it may be scanned. If you are not selected for an interview,
your resume may be scanned with OCR for later retrieval.
Other sources of leads. These companies may or may
not scan. Even companies with OCR do not use it on every candidate. Senior
management, MBAs, and engineers are often read personally. Unsolicited
resumes and undergraduate resumes are often scanned simply because of the
volume of those resumes.
A scannable resume is a hard copy version of your resume,
but different than what you normally do for your resume. Take note that the
keywords are all skill-focused nouns. In your current resume the emphasis is
on verbs. Here are some basic rules to follow when writing a scannable
Keywords in the resume should be skill-focused nouns.
Be sure to spell out “P&L” to “Profit and Loss” and use
both “purchasing” and “procurement” and “standard query language” for
“SQL” or American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS).
Since the resume is converted to a text file and graded,
include NO graphics. This means no lines, bullet points, boldface,
italics, images, etc. OCR will encounter errors when trying to translate
these. Too many errors may negatively impact your résumé’s ability to be
Send only originals of your resume (do not send a
photocopy). Do not fax the resume, and do not fold or staple the resume.
This will improve its grading by OCR.
Font should be 10-14 point. Fonts should be sans serif
style (i.e. Arial) and not Serif (i.e. Times New Roman,
Garamond)…in-other-words, no “curl’s” at the end of letters and more
“block” lettering is preferred. This is often referred to as PDA style
writing. It is less fancy and how you learned to print in grammar school.
This is Times New Roman, This is Arial.
Writing a text resume
A text resume is a text-only version of your resume that
makes it easy for pasting into websites. Here are some rules for text
You need top headings rather than left columns. Nothing
should be in columns.
Make sure to replace all tabs and use the space bar for
spacing. It is best, however, to not try to line anything up because you
do not know if the output uses proportional spacing or not.
Avoid trying to use asterisks (*) for bullets – they may
produce an error. So will hyphens, slashes, etc. Use blank lines to make
the resume look more appealing.
Do not make manual line breaks except for the end of a
bullet/sentence. Just let the text run on.
Font format & style do not matter; they will put it into a
Most will limit the resume to 700 characters, which can
contain a 2-page resume (although not recommended).
You may want to add a “keyword” section at the bottom.
Since the resume is in a database it can be keyword searched.
Keywords tend to nouns (“project management”) rather than
verbs (“managed project”). When using keywords, list them in ALL likely
forms (i.e. “SQL”, “standard query language”, and “sequel server”). See
second bullet point under “scannable resumes,” above. Resumes searched in
databases tend to use keywords that are nouns (i.e. negotiation).
Typically, when a resume is read, it is the verbs that stand
out (i.e. negotiated). The keyword section should have common noun-forms for
Paste from MSWord (to avoid sending viruses) into Notepad,
or some other basic word processing program, and then rearrange it so that
it looks good as a text document. Check your resume each time as it may
paste different each time you do it.
For more information visit:
e-Resumes – http://www.wetfeet.com/asp/article.asp?aid=176&atype=Resumes
Scannable Resume – http://www.wetgeet.com/asp/article.asp?aid=123&atype=Resumes
Scannable Resume – http://www.vault.com/nr/newsmain.jsp?nr_page=3&ch_id=421&article_id=1042
So, what do I send?
In general, send your current, accomplishment (verb-based)
resume unless you have reason to suspect otherwise. Companies who scan will
often list on their web pages what type of resume to send. Read carefully
any literature from a company that discusses the application procedure. If
you are in doubt - ask someone at the company.