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How to Create a Resume That Yields a High Scanning Score

by Christian Fisher, studioD

Your resume might have to survive automated applicant tracking systems many high-profile companies use to scan resumes sent online from job applicants. Your resume must also stand out in front of a recruiter. On average, recruiters spend just six seconds looking at each job applicant’s resume, according to a 2012 study by The Ladders. Formatting your resume correctly can get you through the filters and into an interview.

Write With the Scan in Mind

Write keywords into your resume relevant to the job for which you’re applying. You’ll find such keywords in the job posting that describes what your potential employer is looking for. Applicant tracking systems “read” your resume to give it a percentage score based on how well it matches what the employer has told it to look for. These systems can misjudge your qualifications and give you a low score if your resume doesn’t include certain keywords used in the proper context. For example, it’s not enough to write keywords such as “cloud computing” into your resume to let a tracking system know that you’re experienced in this area. You have to describe your experience using related terms that show the system you know what you’re talking about.

Be Concise and Precise

Include the heading “Work Experience” on your resume, under which you list your past employment. Tracking systems might consider your work experience to be missing unless you specifically call it such. Start each item of work experience with the employer’s name, not with your dates of employment, advises Meredith Levinson in her CIO.com article entitled “5 Insider Secrets for Beating Applicant Tracking Systems.” Write your title under your employer’s name and your employment start and end dates under the title.

Tell Rather Than Show

Avoid visuals such as photos, logos or graphs on your resume. These can jam up applicant tracking systems resulting in your resume getting rejected. In front of a recruiter, a photo on your resume also reduces the average time the recruiter will spend looking at the more important information about you on your resume, according to a 2012 study by The Ladders. Besides, hiring managers who are considering you for a job will likely look you up on LinkedIn where they will see your photo included on your profile anyway.

Dot your Arial “i’s.”

Follow a filter-friendly format as you craft your resume. Aside from perfecting your spelling, grammar and punctuation, use a non-script, 11-point or higher, sans serif font such as Arial or Verdana throughout your resume. Since most tracking systems pull information from the body of your uploaded resume and ignore headers and footers, include your contact information at the center of the top of each page as part of the body of your resume so that systems can recognize it. Additionally, avoid uploading your resume as a PDF since many systems don’t work well with them, according to CIO.com.

About the Author

A writer since 1995, Christian Fisher is an author specializing in personal empowerment and professional success. From 2000 to 2005, he wrote true stories of human triumph for "Woman's World" magazine. Since 2004, he has also helped launch businesses including a music licensing company and a music school.

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