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What are scannable resumes? 

  • Some employers scan resumes onto optical disks, destroy the paper copies, and then use key words to search their database of resumes to identify candidates for vacancies.
  • The employer will usually inform you that your resume will be scanned instead of stored in a paper file.

How is a scannable resume different? 

  • A scannable resume is one that an optical scanner can read accurately.
  • Your scannable resume may look significantly different from one designed for reading.
  • The most difficult resume for the computer to read is a poor quality copy that has an unusual format.

Tips for maximizing scannability 

  • Use plain, white 8 1/2" x 11" paper, printed on one side only using a laser jet printer.
  • Do not fold or staple your resume or cover letter (letters may be scanned also).
  • Use standard, simple 11-12 point fonts (such as CG Times or Universal).
  • Scanners can get confused by underlining, italics, boldface, fancy bullets, shading, lines, symbols, graphics and pictures.
  • Place your name at the top of the page on its own line and each phone number on its own line. Use a standard address format below your name.


  • The computer extracts information from your resume.
  • You can use your current resume; however, once you understand what the computer searches for, you may decide to add a few keywords to increase opportunities for matching requirements or getting "hits".
  • When recruiters search the resume database, they will search for keywords that describe the applicant's specific experience, usually nouns, such as writer, accountant or biologist.

Keywords for maximizing "hits" 

  • Use enough keywords to define your skills, experience, education, professional affiliations, etc. Keywords may include your degree, your major, grade point average, professional association names, computer software, foreign languages, job titles, and personal qualities (dependable, motivated).
  • To decide which keywords to include, read classifieds, trade journals, job descriptions from the Occupational Outlook Handbook or other sources we have at the Office of Career Education & Development, or talk to professionals in the field.
  • Describe your experience with concrete words rather than vague descriptions. For example, use "managed a team of software engineers" instead of "responsible for managing and training".



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