How To Make Your Résumé For Applicant-Tracking Systems


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“Many job seekers have long suspected their online employment applications disappear into a black hole, never to be seen again. Their fears may not be far off the mark, as more companies rely on technology to winnow out less-qualified candidates.”  This quote is from the WSJ article: “Your Résumé vs. Oblivion”  where the author explains how recruiters and hiring managers deal with your resume when you send it via email or upload it on a job board, company’s career websites or Linkedin. In the age of electronics and downsized organizations, companies are overwhelmed by the number of resumes they receive from job applicants so they will first scan your document into a database and a software will screen the resume for specific key words.

Guidelines for making electronic resumes:

Scanned resumes are first translated in ASCII format, a very simplified way of looking at alphanumeric characters without formatting such as bolding, italics and underlines. If you’re submitting a paper resume to a company and you think the resume is going to be scanned into an electronic resume, then you need to make sure the scanning process understands what you’ve written. Remember, the database is going to convert the resume into a simple ASCII format.

Tips for writing your electronic resume:

Make sure your name is the only thing that appears on the first line of the document.

  • Remove any graphics or artwork on your resume including shading, vertical and horizontal lines.
  • Bulleted items can confuse scanners, so convert them to simple hyphens or asterisks.
  • Move all text to the left margin. Tabs, tables and centered text can sometimes confuse the scanning software.
  • Restrict your use of fonts to Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica.
  • Use only one font size, preferably between 10 and 14 points.
  • Remove all underlining, bolding and italics.
  • Use 8.5″ x 11″ paper that is white with black ink and print your resume only on one side of the paper. This will improve the contrast of your  text and help the scanner to read your resume.
  • If possible, do not fold or staple your resume. That means mailing the resume in 9″x 12″ envelope.

Please note that the above recommendations are for US standards. In many other countries, the format is metric and paper size is A4 . If you don’t know where your resume will be scanned, ask the recruiter who posted the job.

Keywords in Electronic Resumes 

If you want to make it through the screening and ranking process, then you need to make sure you have the right keywords or key phrases in the body of your electronic resume. Resume keywords are simply the nouns and adjectives that are relevant to the position to which you’re applying. That means the choosing of keywords for your resume requires a thoughtful process.

Mailing Resumes: 

When submitting a resume by email or through mail it’s advisable to send two copies.  One copy can be the simple format the human resources department can efficiently and accurately scan into the electronic resume database. The second can be the elegantly designed resume that uses bolding and italics to highlight the job titles and keywords the writer wants to emphasize.

 Conclusion: While it is important to adapt your resume format to applicant-tracking software, the single best method of getting a job remains a referral from a company employee.

Related articles:  

 

References :

  • Guidelines for Preparing Electronic Resumes by UCLA 
  • Electronic Resumes by Money-Zine

 

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