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Writing Resumes Using Today’s Technology

  • Do you want your resume to make a favorable impression with a recruiter or other hiring authority?
  • Do you want to stand out among other applicants?
  • Do you want to increase your chances for contact about potential job opportunities?

Your answers to the questions above are likely YES, YES and YES. How might you achieve all of this? KEEP IT SIMPLE!

Making a Favorable Impression
Today's technology has changed the way recruiters and other hiring authorities read resumes. They no longer manually read each resume that crosses their desk. Rather, they depend on sophisticated software packages to scan the resume into a database, code the record to match your experience and skill set, and save the resume for current and future searches.

The good news: Your resume is saved and can be recalled when the perfect position becomes available.

The bad news: Fancy design and layout of your resume can harm, rather than help, your cause.

If your resume cannot be easily scanned, the software may not work correctly. For example, if your resume includes unusual fonts or layouts, the software can mistake words, skip sections of your resume, or even refuse to read it at all. When this happens, your resume may be keyed in by hand (when the computer operator has time) or it may never be read at all.

What can you do to increase your chance of being included accurately in a database?

  • Use a common font. Choose a commonly used font such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier in a 10 pt or greater size. Software can easily read these fonts and there is less chance of coding mistakes when scanning. Also refrain from underlining words as this can change the shape of letters making it difficult for the software to read and code the section.
  • Do not use a two-column format. Many scanning software packages will not recognize the text in the second column, choosing to exclude it.  Save yourself (and the recipient) the aggravation --use a single column (full page) format for your resume.
  • Avoid using tabs if you plan to email your resume. Tabs can translate to different amounts of spaces on the recipient's computer. You are better off using the space bar when formatting your resume. The text will arrive at its intended destination without losing your nice format.
  • Do not use boxes to frame your resume. (This includes horizontal and vertical lines.) Scanners don't like them and programs used to open email attachments will sometimes superimpose the box over the text, thereby hiding the text underneath.
  • Do not use headers or footers as scanners and database programs do not usually pickup the information.
  • Check your spelling. Always make sure to spell check your resume, cover letter, fax cover sheet, and/or email message. Careless spelling on any job related material would make even the most professional person look clueless. And if a keyword is misspelled, the scanning software likely will not pick up the word to correctly code the skill.
  • Use keywords to describe your experience. The use of nouns and noun phrases will trigger software to correctly code your skill set; verbs are less likely to trigger inclusion. However, don't include long lists of every skill you've seen while on the job without explaining how and where you acquired them. This technique may help to include your resume in database queries for particular jobs, but you still may not get a call. Include descriptions of positions held using these keywords. This will help the recruiter or human resource professional determine if you are the type of person they seek. A short list to summarize the skills with which you are most familiar may also be included. A short section under each position to describe it, followed by 3 to 5 bullet point items of your accomplishments works well.  Accomplishments should list what you have done followed by how that benefited the organization.  
  • If you plan to email your resume, view your current saved resume in a text program such as WordPad (found in the Accessories section of most Windows Program Files). The resume will appear in the format in which your recipient is likely to view it. If it appears neatly in the text program, it is unlikely that your recipient will have any issues when processing your resume. If your resume includes unusual characters, or the spacing is off, chances are it will appear to your recipient in the same manner. Keep the addresses and phone numbers on different lines as this enables your resume to be imported into databases cleanly.
  • Regardless of where you compose your resume, always save your resume as a .txt (ASCII text), as a .doc (word document text) or an .rtf (rich text format) file. PDF and WPS formats generally cause problems for most recruiting database software. Whether you copy and paste the resume in the body of the email or include it as an attachment, the recipient is unlikely to have any problems accessing and recording your resume.
  • Once your resume has been received, read and coded and you have been contacted for your perfect job, take several copies of your original, beautifully formatted resume to the interview. After all, you want to make sure you stand out above all other applicants!

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