Will Your Resume Pass a Computer Scan?

You send in an application for a position, but often before reaching a human’s eyes, your resume has to pass through a computer scan.  It makes sense for employers to screen resumes electronically, so that the human resources department does not need to review hundreds of resumes from unqualified applicants.  With this in mind, what can you do to make sure that your resume passes through this electronic screening?

1.  Keep the formatting simple.  Don’t be fancy when formatting your resume.  Use a 10-12 size, common font (ex. Times New Roman).  Avoid the use of italics, colours, lines, graphics, and reverse colouring.  These frills inhibit the scanner’s ability to read the text on your resume.  Focus your energy on the actual content of your application.

2.  Use Keywords.  The scanning program will be looking for specific keywords.  Look at the job advertisement, and make sure that you use the exact same language in your resume.  For example, if the advertisement says, “client service” and you say, “customer service”, the program may not identify it as the same task.  Reduce the risk by using identical words when discussing your previous job duties and accomplishments.  The more keywords that you include in your resume, the better. 

3.  Make sure that your resume is also readable for humans.  Sometimes, when job seekers get too focused on making their resume computer friendly, they forget about the people who have to read it.  Once your resume passes through the computer scan, a manager will read it to decide who to bring in for an interview.  Don’t make this a painful process by submitting a list of keywords without context.  Ensure that your keywords are included within statements that have a cohesive flow.  They should be presented naturally, so that it is not obvious that the resume was designed to pass through a computer scan.  Don’t repeat keywords, as they only need to be included once to be picked up by the computer scanner.

Passing the computer scan does not guarantee that you will get an interview, but if you get screened out before a human sees your resume, then you don’t even have a chance.  The trick to getting a job is having a strategy to pass through each stage, so that you can make it to the interview, and personally convince the employer that you are the best fit for the position.

(Written By: Karen Bivand, Photo From: Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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