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Create resumes that can be easily scanned

With so many job applicants to consider, many employers’ first examination of resumes consists of electronic scanning for keywords.
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Because of this unfortunate job market, employers can be overwhelmed by hundreds of resumes for each job opening. To make resume screening more manageable, more and more employers are electronically scanning resumes to find the most promising resumes for examination by candidate selection committee members.

Some features of resumes easily scanned are that they:

  1. Are done on white paper.
  2. Do not include bold, italicized, or underlined words.
  3. Have a simple font such as Arial, Courier, or Helvetica in size 12 font.
  4. Are done on only one side of the paper.
  5. Are not folded when mailed.
  6. Do not use symbols such as the number (#) sign or hollow bullets.
  7. Have sections separated by white space for easy scanning.
  8. Include keywords and phrases that describe the skills and experience required in the advertised job.

With a phone call to the personnel office that advertised the open job, the job applicant often can determine if the resumes will be electronically scanned. If so, the job applicant needs to look at the verbs in the posted job description. It is important for job applicants to match those verbs as much as is ethically possible when writing their resumes. For example, if the verb “appraised” is in the job description, it would be better to use that verb rather than the verb “evaluated,” which might already be used in the applicant’s resume.

Also, the job announcements might have listed mandatory requirements. Examples might be:

  1. Years of education.
  2. Years of experience.
  3. Geography.
  4. Foreign language proficiency.

These requirements are of a pass/fail nature. Thus it is not just nice for applicants to show that they meet these requirements, it is mandatory.

It is important to customize every resume prepared for every job opening. This customizing, however, is especially important for job openings in which the potential employers will initially scan the resumes.

If job applicants find that they cannot honestly fit their past skills and experience to align with the verbs in the position description, they probably are wasting their time applying for that job. This is especially true if they do not meet the mandatory requirements set by the potential employers.

Have you ever applied for a job that required that your resume be scanned? Please comment below.