Resumes of More Job Seekers Must First Get by a Computer
Laurent Belsie, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor
SAY you want to find a job - a really good one with a big corporation. How do you craft the perfect resume? Pretend, resume-experts say, that you're writing for a machine.
As the flood of job applications grows, large corporations increasingly are turning to resume-reading computers to keep up.
Unisys Corp., an information-management firm here in Blue Bell, Pa., ships all resumes off to a facility in Bismarck, N.D. There, operators scan each resume into a computer. The computer converts the scan into machine-readable text, using a technology called optical character recognition. Then it automatically categorizes the resumes, making it easy for a Unisys recruiter to find, for example, all New York-area applicants who are secretaries familiar with a particular word-processing system.
Such technology is changing the way people write resumes. Here are some tips from Resumix, a Sunnyvale, Calif., resume-reading company, on how to apply for a job the computer-friendly way:
"A scannable resume has standard fonts and crisp, dark type such as a laser printer or a typewriter with a new ribbon would produce." (That's not to impress a boss; it's so the computer can scan the lettering.)
"Use more than one page if necessary. The computer can easily handle multiple-page resumes, and it uses all of the information it extracts from your resume to determine if your skills match available positions."
"Once you understand what the computer searches for, you may decide to add a few key words to increase your opportunities for matching requirements."
"A scannable resume ... maximizes your ability to get 'hits.' " Getting a hit means using the same words a recruiter uses when searching the database. So use lots of nouns and industry jargon to describe your achievements, resume pros say.
For corporations, such technology can be a great boon. Unisys gets 5,000 to 7,000 resumes a month. That's far too many for its 30 recruiters, spread all over the country, to read.
Until last year, "each recruiter had his own little file cabinet of resumes," says Bart Erwin, senior consultant with Unisys recruiting and staffing. "Now they have everything in one file cabinet." Instead of each recruiter having 500 resumes to look at, the company hopes each recruiter will soon have 30,000 to scan. …