The Scannable Resume
Perhaps, you will find it as no surprise that rapidly changing computer technology has entirely transformed the way people look for a job. In the years to come, the traditional resume that is written with action verbs and is read by a human will be gradually replaced by the scannable or electronic resume that is written with keywords and is read by a computer. This change is already underway in larger urban areas and is currently being used by companies such as Kodak and even school districts such as Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.
Along with this change comes a whole new set of rules for composing and marketing your resume. This guide will help you become familiar with those new rules and will assist you in maintaining a competitive edge in the trendy job market of the new millennium.
The Resume Scanning Process
Before submitting your resume to any company or organization, it may be a good idea to ask the human resource department whether or not they scan their resumes into a computer system. If they do not, then, send your resume in the traditional format as described in our “Composing a Resume” handout. Remember, a traditionally written resume will always be read by a human being. If a company or organization does scan resumes into a computer system, be sure to follow the rules and guidelines in this handout since your resume will probably be “read” by a computer. Whatever the case, it is a wise idea to have two versions of your resume---a traditional format and a scannable format.
After your scannable or electronic resume is prepared, mail the original to the company or organization you are applying to. When your resume is received, it will be scanned into an applicant tracking system (ATS), which is basically like an electronic traffic cop that tells your resume where to go. Many ATS’s are equipped with optical character recognition software that translates your resume information into a universal computer language called ASCII. In this way, a computer is able to quickly “read” and sort through many resumes.
As with the traditional resume, the content of a scannable resume should reflect your work experience, accomplishments, and education.
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