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Sunday, March 11, 2007
Scannable Not Text

Remember the days when the only format choice you had for your resume was whether it was done in Pica or Elite type and if it was typed on white or ivory paper? Boy, that’s a blast from the past! Things are a lot different now than they used to be. Now, you have a myriad of design choices – hundreds of fonts, graphics, elements, embedded keywords, scannable or fully formatted, Word, PDF, HTML or text. It can be a little confusing, especially if you are not familiar with what all this means.

One of the most common confusions is the difference between text and scannable. Many of our clients ask if we prepare text format resumes. The answer to that is yes and no. We prepare scannable resumes that are in a text file format. Text is a file format whereas the term scannable refers to a way a resume is laid out to be easily read by a computer and a human. Many people think that a text format is just the regular Word document saved as a text file, but that’s not correct. Technically, you can do that but have you ever seen the end result? It’s awful!

A scannable resume is a resume that is designed to follow certain rules for spacing, elements, character width, etc. so that the resume is not only compatible with resume databases but can also be read by a human being. To prepare a good scannable resume, changes in paragraph layout are often needed, and wording sometimes needs to be slightly honed for keywords and to be more noun-based. Scannable resumes should not only be readable by a computer but must be readable by a human in terms of flow, visual organization, and design. Strategic use of text-friendly design elements such as all caps, asterisks, and other characters you see lurking on your keyboard can help the human eye make sense of what is a fairly ugly document.

When the scannable resume is prepared, it will sometimes have additional keywords added or have some sentences rewritten to be more noun-based. Resumes are searched on noun phrases such as “Quality Control” or “network design” but resumes are written as verb-based documents for the most part. A bit of tweaking to the content of the scannable can make it more effective in the search process.

Quick – pop quiz. What is the difference between a text format and a scannable resume? A scannable is saved in text format but follows certain rules of design. Do you need a scannable resume in your job search? Yes!


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