making your resume scannable

Cover Letter + Resume Tips

Make Your Resume Scannable

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Job Pixie   >   Cover Letter + Resume Tips   >   Resume Tips   >   Make Your Resume Scannable

Many employers request a resume from all candidates applying for a job. In many cases, they do not actually perform a detailed review on each of these resumes (which would be far too time-consuming), but instead use scanning technology to look for resources that contain keywords matching their requirements. Only those resumes which pass this initial filter are given further review, and it is therefore critical for your success that you maximize your chances of passing this scanning stage.

The first thing to understand is what scanning software does: it searches for certain keywords or phrases within the resume and finds matches. If none of the keywords are found (which could be for a variety of reasons - including the relevant item is not present, an unusual phraseology is used by the candidate, or the keyword has been misspelled). then the resume is discarded. The scanning process can be used regardless of what format a resume arrives in:
  • If the resume arrives in electronic form, this scanning process works directly on the electronic file.

  • If the resume arrives on paper, an image scanner is used to convert the document into an electronic image file, and that in turn is converted into electronic text using OCR software. You should be aware however that this process works much better for some types of documents than others, and you need to carefully design your resume with this mind, or otherwise you won't show up in keyword searches.
So what can you do to maximize the scannability of your resume? Here are some tips:
  • Whenever there is a choice, submit your resume in electronic form rather than on paper. This removes the possibility of scanning/OCR errors causing you not to be listed on keyword searches.

  • If submitting on paper, print your resume on plain white paper, one side only. If your resume runs to multiple pages, make sure the pages are numbered and your name is in the top left corner of each page. Do not staple the pages as otherwise a busy scanner operator using the hardware's sheet-feeder may inadvertently only scan the top page.

  • Avoid using fancy layouts: Do not use tables. stick to left-to-right writing, and avoid bold, italics and underline. Use only common fonts such as Times Roman or Arial (preferably the same font throughout) and with all the text at 10 or 12 points size.

  • Avoid using special symbols such as the copyright symbol, percentage symbol, etc. Many OCR packages do not cope well with such characters.

  • Use power words to describe your experience and qualifications. Many recruiters search on such words.

  • Try to use the same terminology as the employer. For example, if they have used particular words to describe the qualifications that they seek in their job advert, make sure similar words appear in your resume and cover letter.

  • Avoid abbreviations and alternative spellings which may not match keyword searches.

  • Carefully check all your spelling; a keyword search won't find your resume if you misspelled the word!
Related Web Sites & Pages

Here are some other websites that may be of interest:
  • CareerAssist
    We offer affordable, easy-to-use cover letter and resume builder software and resume and cover letter critique services

  • Post Your Resume for FREE at

  • Resume and Cover Letter Secrets Revealed
    "This do-it-yourself manual makes writing your own resume and cover letter a breeze... even for someone who's never written them before!"

  • Resume Rabbit
    This site INSTANTLY submits a customers resume and job requirements on up to 75 top job sites including Monster,, CareerBuilder, Net-Temps, Dice and more! Once finished our customers can be seen by over 1.5 million employers and recruiters daily. It takes customers ONLY 5 minutes & saves them over 60 hours of research and data entry. Best of all, its easy to use and produces REAL results! Since January 2001 ResumeRabbit has performed 1,000,000's of resume submissions for loads of happy customers. And the site has great testimonials to prove it!

  • Sample Resumes
    Resume and Cover Letter Samples Package.
Here are some other pages on this website that may be of interest:
Click Here for a Free Resume Critique

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