Online Resumes: Digital, Internet, ASCII Text, and Scannable Resumes

Online resumes are increasing in popularity among recruiters and human resources personnel.

What is an online resume?  It is a resume specially prepared to be read by an electronic scanner, which uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to read, process, and track documents, including resumes.

This method of screening resumes will increase dramatically in the 21st century.  It is rapidly becoming the preferred method that recruiters and human resource personnel use to avoid hours of manual reviewing.  These systems scan resumes for keywords, industry-specific jargon, and areas of experience and education to ensure that applicants have the desired job qualifications.

Electronic resume scanning is used to screen and sort applicants, primarily by large (5,000+ employees) and mid-size (500-5,000 employees) business organizations.  It is estimated that 85% of medium to large firms are currently using electronic resume screening.  If you are sending your resume to a company that you suspect is using scanning, be safe and send both a scannable and a traditional version of your resume.

Now that you understand the importance of a keyword-scannable resume, you need to know the basics of creating one.

A scannable resume needs to use a clear, large font.  These documents are noun-based, rather than verb or adjective-based.  Search engines do not care about how you "designed" or how you "established" certain forms or procedures.  They look for nouns such as "new account set-up," "sales and marketing," "sales manager," "quotas," "cold calling," or "territory management."  Knowing the keywords for your target industry and profession is imperative.  Review ads and job descriptions for ideas or keywords to use in your resume.  Try to incorporate these words in both your resume and cover letter.

A plain text (ASCII) version of your resume is necessary to communicate with the wide variety of computers tied into the internet; this format is one that every computer understands.  When creating the ASCII version, you should start with a powerful, professionally-written Microsoft Word resume, and then convert the file.  

Don't be alarmed when you first look at the ASCII text version because it will not look like a standard resume, the one you just wrote. The text version will not recognize the formatting commands the word processing program uses.  Online resumes are written for a search engine, not the human eye.  Therefore, there are several errors that you should avoid in the document, including: unusual typefaces/fonts, word wrapping, proportional typefaces, special characters, tabs, bolding, italicizing, and centered or proportional alignment.  Also, keep each line to no more than 60 characters.

In the 21st century, an ASCII text version of a resume is necessary for anyone conducting an online job search.  You need to be prepared and have your resume converted.  Many companies refuse to open attachments for fear of viruses or word processing incompatibility.  In addition, it takes a hiring manager's time to open an attachment.  Don't miss out on a job opportunity because you are not prepared.

If you don't know how to convert and fix the formatting, contact us.  We provide this service.

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Candace Davies ACCC, CRW, CIC, CPRW, CEIP, CECC
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