Choosing the Proper Resume Format (page 4)

Updated on Nov 30, 2010

Who It's Best Suited For

Anyone applying for jobs online must have an electronic resume. This includes people using any of the career-related websites or those plannig to apply for a job directly through a company's website. Electronic resumes are also ideal for sending via e-mail. The majority of large companies currently accept electronic resume submissions.

When to Avoid Using It

If you're applying for a traditional job that requires a traditional printed resume.

Scannable/Keyword Resumes

One of the fastest growing trends among medium- and large-size companies is to incorporate applicant-tracking software into their HR practices. Applicant-tracking software allows an employer to create a list of keywords for each job opening. These keywords are used to describe the job's requirements, the necessary skills, and the educational background for the ideal applicant. Once this list of keywords is created by the employer, the software allows employers to take traditional printed resumes or electronic resumes and automatically scan or import them into a database without someone reading or evaluating them.

Once an applicant's resume is entered into the database, the software deciphers it, word by word, and compares each word to the listing of keywords created by the employer. Only those applicants who have resumes with a pre-defined number of keyword matches will be flagged as potentially qualified applicants for a job opening. After the software has selected the top candidates, an HR professional can read only those applicants' resumes or interview those people.

As a job seeker, if you will be applying for jobs at medium- to large-size companies that already use applicant-tracking software, it's important to create a resume that will be compatible with applicant-tracking software. Focus on using keywords within your resume that you believe will match keywords the employer has already selected. Instead of using action verbs (as you would for a traditional printed resume), incorporate nouns that describe your skills, experience, and education.

Although a scannable or keyword-based resume can follow any of the formats of a traditional printed resume, the wording will be different. After the heading section, some applicants add a section called "Keywords," which is simply a listing of nouns, phrases, industry terminology, and buzzwords you know the computer will search for when it evaluates your resume.

Although you're creating a printed resume you believe will be read by a computer, you should still follow the resume design tips provided in this book for traditional printed resumes. After all, there's always a chance someone might look at your resume, and you want them to be impressed.

When you create your resume on a computer, using a word processor or resume-creation software, save that document file, just as you would any other document. A traditional resume (one that is to be printed and then sent to potential employers), which you save on your computer's hard disk as a Microsoft Word document, for example, is different from an electronic (digital) resume that will be formatted differently, will take advantage of keywords, and will ultimately be e-mailed (not printed on paper and sent) to a potential employer.

In today's cut-throat business world, it's extremely common for a job seeker to have multiple versions of his or her resume. It's definitely a worthwhile time investment to take your traditional printed resume and modify it into a scannable resume.

When printing and formatting a scannable resume that will be submitted to an employer in hardcopy form, follow the specifications listed in Exhibit 3–7.


Don't make the assumption that the company you will be sending your resume to isn't high-tech enough to use applicant-tracking software.

Who It's Best Suited For

Anyone applying for a job at a medium- to large-size company in any industry that uses applicant-tracking software should take advantage of this type of resume. If an employer uses this type of software, the job ad may indicate it.

When to Avoid Using It

If you're a top-level executive who knows your resume will be read and evaluated by a person rather than a computer, creating an electronic or keyword resume won't be useful or necessary. Likewise, if you're absolutely sure your resume will be read and evaluated by a person, focus on creating a traditional printed resume as opposed to an electronic resume. People applying for jobs at small companies probably don't need this type of resume.

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