Electronic Resume Tips

The electronic resume is making it even easier now to apply for jobs.

The electronic resume is beginning to have great impact on the way resumes are created. Organizations are storing resumes in computer databases and unless your resume follows some of the rules which are quickly becoming standard, your resume may not work well for you.

The principles of writing a top quality resume have changed little in the past ten years. Three overriding constants hold true:

  1. A resume needs to convey to an employer that you are highly capable
  2. A resume should effectively "sell" your work experience
  3. The resume should present a clear, concise picture of you and your qualifications and also be easily scanned.

Technology, of course has changed dramatically in these past ten years. With the greater capabilities of desktop computers has come the growing use of scanners and optical character read (OCR) software. This technology has enabled employers to take resumes which arrive through the mail, scan them, and place them into computer databases for access at a later time. For such companies, file drawers full of resumes have become a thing of the past.

Technology changes the way people do things, and the expanding use of computerized resume databases is changing the way resumes are created. To understand these changes you must understand how resumes are scanned and then accessed. When a resume arrives at an organization which scans and stores resumes, it first passes through an electronic scanner which in essence takes a picture of the page. It then must be analyzed by the optical character reading (OCR) software to change it from an image, to letters and words that can then be stored in a database and accessed. It is stored as ASCII (pronounced ASKEE) text which is a universal computer language that all computers can understand. Problems can occur in both the scanning and reading stages. If there is not a good contrast between the paper and letters the scanner may not take a good picture of the page. This could occur when a resume with black ink on dark blue paper is scanned. If the letters are too small or if an unusual font has been used, the OCR software simply cannot recognize the letters and the resume will be unreadable.

Scanners and OCR software are constantly improving so the newest high end hardware and software may have little trouble with typical resumes. The problem is that many organizations are still using four year old hardware and software, and you have no way of knowing who is state of the art and who is not. What this means is that the great looking resumes that people create with their computers and laser printers, will need to be modified.

Once resumes have been stored in the database, they are retrieved through the use of key words. A manager looking for a programmer might select such key words as Programmer, B.A. Computer Science, Visual Basic (a programming language), and Windows NT (a computer operating system). These key words are selected because it is believed that virtually every qualified person will have those words appearing in their resume. Given these parameters, only those resumes which have each of those words or phrases will be selected from the database.

One by one the resumes will appear on a computer screen and the key words in the resume will be highlighted. A person will skim through each resume to determine which people appear to be good candidates. When a highly qualified candidate pops up on the screen, the person reviewing the resumes hits a key which causes that resume to be printed out. Those not so qualified will simply remain in the database awaiting future openings for which they may be better qualified. Once a suitable number of candidates is obtained they will likely be reviewed by a department manager who will select ten candidates out of a group of perhaps 20. Those ten will be called and will probably go through a short screening telephone interview. Those who pass that test will be invited for a face to face interview.

Observe what has happened. The inclusion of the right key words in the persons resume caused the resume to be selected from within the database. The resume was then reviewed by someone. At that point the actual experience the person had, and the quality of the presentation of that experience, determined whether the resume was printed out.

If your resume does not contain the right key words, or if some of the key words can not be read, it will not be selected from the database for viewing. Also, if the resume does not present your background well through high quality writing, you will not be viewed as a strong candidate.

Although it seems like extra work to create a scannable resume, it will take little extra time if you follow a few simple suggestions. Following the instructions should lead to a resume which is scanned and stored with one hundred percent accuracy.