What is scanning?
It is a process by which an increasing number of large companies sort and file a high volume of resumes by scanning them into a computer. Resumes are accessed by keyword searches, which mean that someone at the company chooses the words by which to search the database. Although this method is not the norm for resume selection, its popularity is growing, and it is estimated that by the year 2000, more than 80% of large companies will use this technique in fielding the resumes they receive.
Why is scanning beneficial?
Many non-computerized resume filing systems are inefficient. A company may have your resume, but if a position (for which you are qualified) opens up and they can't find your resume among their collection, they will usually look elsewhere. Scanned resumes, on the other hand, may be brought up simply by typing in keywords, and are generally kept on file for about 6 months. This means that companies who send "we'll file your resume" letters may actually see your resume again after it has been filed!
What is a drawback of scanning?
Computers search their databases only for specific keywords. If your resume is missing a “keyword”, your resume is likely to be overlooked, even if you are qualified. In order to enhance your SQ, or “scannability quotient,” it is suggested that you be as specific as possible when describing your qualifications. Simply put, the more detail you include, the more potential keywords you'll have working for you. By including company names, titles, and industry jargon—example: CAD (Computer Assisted Design)—you will increase your number of keyword possibilities.
Instead of: Have computer experience; type: Experienced in Lotus 3.4, Word Perfect 6.0, and Quattro Pro
Things to avoid
- Bold, Italic, or Underlined keywords (It is okay to emphasize your name, address and headings such as EDUCATION or HONORS, but important terms which set you and your resume apart - such as “Quattro Pro” or “Engineer” - should remain in normal text.)
- Shaded or boxed text
- Letters that have been tightly kerned
- Multiple columns
- Complicated fonts
- Folds or staples
- Faxed or dot-matrix printed resumes (laser printer is most easily scanned)
Things to include
- Paper that is high contrast and preferably white
- Keep your format simple: 1 inch margins and use of white space makes scanning easier.
- Simple font: in 10-14 point type Times, Arial, and Courier are excellent resume fonts.)
- Do list companies, titles, and jargon
- Be detailed. It is okay to exceed one page - if the information is relevant. The computer isn’t going to care!
Remember that once your resume passes the scan test, it will be seen by real eyes, which means that it must still be neat and visually appealing. Good luck with your scannable resume!