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Scannable Resume Design - Articles Surfing

Place a call to your favorite store or bank, and you're usually dealing with voicemail and automated menus, rather than a real person. The same is now true when you send your resume to the HR department of major corporations (and even some smaller companies). Because many candidates apply for one opening, software is used to 'weed out' those who don't match the job criteria.

To make the most of your job search, it's essential for your resume to be in a format that can be read by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. Sound daunting? It doesn't have to be when you know the tricks of the trade in creating a modern resume.

OCR Technology

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) was developed in the 70's by Ray Kurzweil. Although Mr. Kurzweil's intent was to develop a machine to help the visually impaired read printed materials, OCR technology has since become indispensable in modern business.

With OCR, it's a computer, not a human being, which will be scanning your resume for appropriate content. Since machines are not impressed by font styles and other formatting enhancements, content is all-important, as is the presentation of your document in a scanner-friendly manner.


It's wise to put your name on each page of your scannable resume. Why? If one of the pages gets separated, it will be nearly impossible to know where it might belong. It's best to avoid this situation by putting your name at the top of each page, along with a page number.

Contact Information

In addition to your street address, include an e-mail address. Choose an address that's businesslike in tone, rather that one reflecting a special interest or a nickname. For example, the following are inappropriate:

' savethewhales@net.net

' pinballchamp@net.net

' overthehillgal@net.net

Always be professional ' and avoid using work e-mail addresses. Hiring managers are rarely interested in interviewing someone who is using their current employer's time to look for another job.

It's wise to include a cell-phone number along with your home number, especially if that's your easiest point of contact. However, be certain of the quality of your phone and service before offering it. Nothing is more frustrating to a hiring manager than to conduct a conversation through static and breaks in conversation.

In modern resumes, fax numbers are rarely provided. Also, never include current work numbers.

Scanner-Friendly Fonts

Since scanning equipment may differ from company to company, it's best to err on the conservative side when choosing fonts. Avoid all "designer" fonts and stick with classics like Arial or Times New Roman. Other good choices are Garamond, Bookman, Courier New, and Century Schoolbook.

Don't make the software work extra hard to read all the characters in your resume, as this may lead to mistakes and missed keywords. It's best to use a font size between 9 and 12.


Unlike resumes being read by a human audience, scannable resumes must be easy to read by computer software. Stick to basics and avoid formatting headaches. Your best choice is to:

' Be certain all type is flush left.

' Separate sections with white spaces, rather than dashes, dots, or tildes.

' Not use tables or graphics.

' Put section headers in ALL CAPS.

Scannable Resume Design


Keywords are nouns or noun phrases indicating your skill set or qualifications. For some federal job openings, a resume must have a 95 percent or higher hit rate for a candidate to be given serious consideration.

Some Examples

The more keywords, or 'hits,' that an OCR scanning program finds, the more likely it is that your resume will be read.

Examples of keywords for an administrative assistant might be:

' Typing 90 wpm

' Dictation

' Microsoft Word

' Microsoft Excel

' Microsoft PowerPoint

' Reception

' Phone Support

For an accountant, keywords might be:

' Tax Accounting

' Reconciliations

' General Ledger

' Profit-and-Loss Statements

Finding Keywords

A great place to start in the hunt for keywords is your current and previous job descriptions. Pull out nouns or phrases that show what you do on a daily basis, so long as those tasks are still relevant to your job search.
You may also cull data from the Experience and Skills sections of your current or old resumes. These will provide relevant and significant keywords for your scannable resume.

Finally, look at your job postings. These are perhaps the most significant resource you can use. By dovetailing past experience with required qualifications and skills, you effectively target the new job.

Working Keywords In

To work keywords into your scannable resume, you have two options. You can create a list at the beginning of your resume, or you can sprinkle them throughout. Remember, the more closely your background matches the qualifications of the new job, the more likely it is that you'll be invited to interview.


The following are "classic" scannable resumes in which all formatting enhancements have been removed. These resumes can be read by all OCR software.

With technology advances, scanning software is available that will read more formatted resumes. However, unless you're sure that the employer you're targeting is using this new software, it's best to stick with an easy-to-read format that emphasizes keywords and content.

Submitted by:

Michael Fleischner

http://ResumeEdge.com is one of the nations leadingresume writing service providers, offering professional resume writing, editing, and guidance. Visit http://www.resumeedge.com for access to free sample resumes and much more.



Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).


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