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Computer Scanning of Resumes

Many large companies use a computer program to copy thousands of resumes into a computer database so they do not have to handle, sort and store resumes by hand. Companies do not even have to look at resumes without the "right" qualifications since resumes are sorted by key words. Clues to what key words to include are found in the position description or classified advertisement. Circle words that describe qualifications, experience, skills and job requirements.

Try to use these words in single-line statements in the highlights/strengths section. As long as the key words appear on the page, they are identified in the scan and search process. Thus, your resume stands a better chance of being selected for closer review.

Make your resume "scanner-friendly" so the computer has no trouble reading it. Make the following changes if you plan to send your resume to a company that electronically scans resumes:

    • Remove italic, bold, bullets and underline designations.
    • Remove parentheses, shading, graphics and horizontal lines.
    • Remove anything on the first line other than your name.
    • Use a type size between 11 and 14 points.

Ideas adapted from Joyce Lain Kennedy’s book "The Electronic Resume Revolution."John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998.

This completes the worksheet portion and your preliminary work on resume style.

Just in case you are wondering if doing all of this yourself is worth it, remember, you are the only person that knows everything about what you have done. Only you can decide what types of jobs you are interested in, what skills you would like to emphasize, and what examples you have to support each. Furthermore, now that you have done all of this, you are ready for tough interview questions like "why should we hire you?" and you can demonstrate a knowledge of the skills necessary to do the job.

Next, you are ready to type a draft on computer. We recommend a software package with flexibility, such as Microsoft Word or Word Perfect. But any word processing package you are familiar with is fine. Be sure to save your work on disk so that you can have it reviewed/critiqued, and then make revisions easily. Also, it makes having several versions of your resume for different job objectives a breeze!!

Here are a few final tips to review:

  • Keep your resume short and simple - limit to one page
  • Capitalize section headings.
  • Use bullet dots (• ) or an asterisk (*) for lists to make them easier to read.
  • Keep sentences short.
  • Be positive, avoid terminology like "limited".
  • Be honest, don’t exaggerate. Make sure you can support all information.
  • Don’t mention salary or wages on the resume.
  • Use 8.5" x 11" standard sized paper, don’t use legal size just to get it on one page!
  • Use quality bond paper in neutral color such as white, ivory, or gray.
  • Make quality copies.
  • Make good use of white space and margins to avoid looking crowded.
  • Use a standard type font (such as Times New Roman) and keep most text at 12 point size.
  • Proofread for spelling errors, (you can also do spell check, but don’t rely on it 100%).

When you are finished, have someone look it over for aesthetics as well as content. Correct/revise as necessary. Keep it up-to-date. Revise for different job objectives.


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