electronic resume

An electronic resume is a plain text (ASCII), PDF or HTML document that provides an employer with information regarding a job candidate's professional experience, education and job qualifications and is meant to be read by a computer program instead of by a human being.

Many large companys process all their incoming resumes electronically by using an automated applicant tracking systems (ATS) or subscribing to a resume scanning service that scans resumes as images and uses optical character recognition (OCR) software to read the text. Essentially, the information contained on the resumes is entered into a relational database so when the company needs to hire new talent, someone from the human resources management (HRM) department can query the database for possible candidates. Resumes that match a specified score for keywords that were identified by the hiring manager are then selected for human review.

On an electronic resume, keywords can be stated in a separate keyword section, or they can be integrated into the text. The font should be simple and all text should be aligned to the left. Do not use underlining, bolding, italics or bullets as these can confuse older OCR software programs. In general, action verbs like "managed" or "facilitated," which are recommended for use in paper resumes, are not effective in electronic resumes because most ATS keywords are nouns.

Since computers read resumes differently than people do, recruiters recommend that job hunters should prepare two versions of their resume: a simple, electronic one for talent analytics programs and a more creative one printed on quality paper to hand-deliver to someone within the organization or bring to an interview.

This was last updated in July 2014

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