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What Are the Best Tips for Writing a Scannable Resume?

Lily Ruha
Lily Ruha

The best tips for writing a scannable resume are the inclusion of ideal keywords, proper formatting and relevant content. Resume scanning enables employers to use keyword searches for the purpose of quickly sorting through large numbers of applications. Proper formatting allows for a clear transfer of graphics to text during the scanning process. The content of the resume typically is the same as a traditional resume, requiring information about education, skills and work experience. Submitting a scannable resume requires careful attention to the specific directions provided by the employer.

Using keywords specific to the industry and position is one of the most important aspects of a scannable resume. This typically is best accomplished by becoming familiar with the industry and conducting research to determine the terminology used to refer to processes, software, position titles and qualifications. If an employer is specifically interested in specialized software, making a vague reference to something such as "numerous software packages" is less useful than listing specific software applications. Using both an acronym and the spelled-out version of phrases is important for appearing in database searches. Correct spelling of all searched terminology is particularly important with this type of resume because misspelled words generally do not appear in a database search.

Scannable resumes are formatted for use with optical character recognition software.
Scannable resumes are formatted for use with optical character recognition software.

The proper formatting of a scannable resume also is essential for clear scanning. Avoiding the use of italics, bold type, underlining, bullets or other graphics is important because the scanning process does not distinguish between these enhancements. Simple fonts such as Tahoma and Arial are preferable to fonts that have sophisticated letter markings. Left justification typically is a requirement in a scannable resume, so centered or right-justified text should be avoided. Column formatting like the kind typically used in newsletters also should be avoided.

A scannable resume generally contains the same type of content as a conventional resume. Employers use this resume type to manage large numbers of documents and identify the best candidates for a position. Including all academic degrees and training, work experience, software knowledge and relevant activities is an important part of the resume-writing process. Organizing all of this information with the right keywords and format allows an employer to locate and focus on the resume to the exclusion of numerous other applicants.

Requirements for submission of a scannable resume vary by employer. Some hiring companies expect resumes to be submitted via email. Other employers require mailing the resume. If a hard copy is needed, printing the resume on a high-quality laser printer generally creates an image that is better suitable for scanning. Avoiding paper with a watermark or thick texture also is important for greater print clarity.

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    • Scannable resumes are formatted for use with optical character recognition software.
      By: NAN
      Scannable resumes are formatted for use with optical character recognition software.