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The Computer-Friendly Resume

The evolution of technology is changing the traditional methods for job searching and recruiting. More and more companies are now relying on computers to initiate the process of hiring and are filling their database with candidates with skills that are easily searchable. Traditionally, submitted resumes were first received and sorted by humans. What else, right? But now, for many firms, this step has been handed over to their computers.

To facilitate more efficient hiring, incoming resumes for some large firms are sent to a computerized applicant tracking system to be scanned, or read. The resumes are sorted, categorized and retrieved through data scanning technology and entered into the organization's computing network. Resumes must now be formatted and written in a way so that the initial viewer of the resume, a computer, can read it. The information contained in this article is a guide toward making your resume "readable" by these scanning systems. This type of resume is referred to as the scannable resume.

A scannable resume is more focused on the text, or keywords, in the document than the design. The layout is simplified so that distractions such as font or Internet links do not confuse the computer scanner. In order to convert your traditional resume into a scannable resume, follow these simple guidelines.

• Use Arial or Helvetica as your font (10-14 point)

• Take out all underlined, italicized or shadowed type

• Eliminate pictures or Internet links

• Do not include columns or tables

• Print it on white or very light-colored paper

• Use a high quality laser printer

• Include an unfolded original on standard size paper, one sided, with black ink

• Add a key-word qualifications summary

Be sure that you place your name and contact information at the top of the page. Scanners assume that the text at the top is your name and contact information. If you have more than one page for your resume then place your name and a page number on each additional page and attach them with a paper clip, do not use staples.

Even if the following resume characteristics apply specifically to your industry, you must eliminate them. These include columns, newspaper-style designs, landscape printing, and fancy fonts. Scanning system abilities differ from company to company so it's difficult to set boundaries. Some are able to read just about anything and others are confused by the smallest detail. So if you are unaware of the limitations of the system then play it safe and follow the simplest guidelines.

It is not a good idea to fax your resume to the employer. Faxing can reduce the clarity of the text. Unless the employer uses OCR-capable equipment, then avoid faxing. If you are not certain of what equipment they use then send a hard copy in the mail or send an ASCII version by e-mail.

It may seem boring to simplify your resume, but at least it will be easily searchable and hopefully placed in the firm's database to be read. You do not want to take the chance of having your resume thrown out due to a scanning problem. We can only hope that as technology advances the scannable resume will not be so limited!

Established in 1996, MEPatWORK is the leading full-service recruitment solutions provider in the HVAC, sheet metal, refrigeration, control, electrical, plumbing and piping industries. Headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, this privately held company also has offices in in Chicago and Pittsburgh and specializes in finding top talent for all levels of contracting, wholesale, and manufacturing.


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