Downloadable version (Microsoft Word document)
Note: The downloadable version of this document contains several example resumes to provide ideas.
Scannable resumes allow potential employers to scan information into a computer which then identifies the individuals whose resumes include key words and phrases that closely match the job selection criteria. Employers receive so many resumes in a given year that they have adopted this process as a more efficient alternative to visually scanning traditional resumes. This system has motivated many large companies to ask for a scannable, rather than traditional, resume. Scannable resumes do not have to be visually appealing; they do make the information computer-accessible. Since the visual appeal of a traditional resume is very important, you will probably want to have two resumes: one for people, another for computers.
There are two issues to consider when creating a scannable resume:
The layout must be readable by a scanner.
The text must be searchable by a computer.
Use a simple, normal size (11 – 14 point) font. Avoid decorative fonts, as the computer will have a harder time processing these fonts. The most commonly used fonts are Courier, Times New Roman, Helvetica, Futura, Arial, Optima, and Palatino.
Print your resume with a laser printer on white copy paper—not bond paper as with a traditional resume. The final copy should be of average thickness, unstapled, and unfolded. It is acceptable to have more than one page (up to seven pages).
Left justify the text with your name at the top on its own line. Do not use columns, lines, bullets, pictures, boxes, symbols such as $, %, @, or any other image. Also, avoid using bold, underlined, or italicized text. Use sections to organize your resume as you would in a traditional resume, with each piece of information on a new line.
Include key words obtained from job description handbooks, classified ads, and advertisements for similar jobs to describe your skills and experience. Use plenty of nouns, and feel free to repeat yourself using synonyms, since it's hard to know exactly what words the computer will search for. Do not use abbreviations unless they are common acronyms. Make sure to use terms commonly known in your field, buzzwords and industry jargon. For example, a civil engineer might use the words structural assessor, accident reconstruction, AUTOCAD, or site surveyor when applying for a job.