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You are here: The Job Explorer > Cover Letter > Electronic Resume

Electronic Resume: eResume

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Electronic ResumeAdvances in scanning and image technology have started a revolution in the collection, storage and management of resumes.  Through this technology, many businesses and organizations have begun using scanners to screen their job applicants.

Now, not only should you have a presentable version of your resume for interviewers, but also a data attractive version for the computer.  In other words, you will need to develop two versions of your resume - a visually attractive resume and a scannable resume.

At one time it was acceptable to send multiple copies to an employer, each showing your talents for a different position.  With today's advanced technologies and computer database systems, submitting multiple resumes may only succeed in flagging you as "high risk" or "unfocused".

How it works

Resumes are received by the employer and are scanned into a computer.  The computer "reads" each resume, looking for keywords, and files the resume in its system.  When a job opening needs to be filled, the employer tells the computer what keywords to look for, the computer finds all of the resumes that match those keywords, and the resumes are ranked by number of matched keywords.

When writing a scannable resume, many of the rules for a traditional resume apply.  The secret of a successful scannable resume is the use of the keywords that employers are searching for.  This is not an easy task as many keywords vary from employer to employer.


A scannable resume will resemble a non-scannable resume with a few exceptions:

  • Keyword/summary section
    This should be a short, strong opening paragraph.  Indicate your key experiences and your strongest skills.
  • Identification
    List your name, address, telephone, fax number, and email address on separate lines, any formatting may confuse the computer.
  • Objective
    Indicate what your specific goals are and what position you're looking to fill.
  • Education, experience, activities/interests, accomplishments, and references
    Like a traditional, written resume, these sections should include past work experience, education, volunteer positions, internships, awards, etc.


What you include in your resume is how the computer will file your information.  Where traditional resumes use action verbs to interest the reader, scannable resumes uses nouns to attract attention.  Employers will search for words such as job titles, familiar acronyms, company names, organizations, degrees, etc.  What the employer will search for is unknown, you can only make reasonable assumptions about what a specific employer will seek.

It is even more critical now that you research the company and position you are applying for.  If you know the requirements of the job, you can be sure to include the keywords on your resume.

Keyword samples by occupation

Accounting manager
BS accounting
Accounts payable
Accounts receivable
Exceeded quota
Will travel
Copy editing
Creative Writing
Technical Writing
Promotional material
Sales promotion
Cable television
Quark XPress
Adult education
Special Education
Computer Aided Testing
TV/Movie Arts
Concept design
TV Creative development

Samples of frequently requested interpersonal traits:

ability to delegate
ability to implement
ability to plan
ability to train
aggressive work
analytical ability
communication skills
conceptual ability
customer oriented
detail minded
follow through
high energy
open communication
open minded
oral communication
organizational skills
problem solving
public speaking
results oriented
risk taking
safety conscious
self accountable
takes initiative
team player
willing to travel


Less is more!  The best scannable resumes are simple, unadorned, uncluttered and unpretentious.

  • Simple structured format
  • Single space text
  • Double space between main headings
  • Use a plain font like Courier or Palatino
  • Use a laser printer
  • White paper, 8" x 11"
  • Headlines are 12 point bold face and the rest is in 10 point regular

Tips of the Trade

  • Use future dates when listing education, if applicable, omitting the word "expected"
  • Avoid bullets, boxes, lines, italics, boldface, and underline
  • Avoid ambiguous phrases and vague word choice (example: "responsible for project organization" becomes "organized series of projects for marketing new line of software")
  • Avoid using a passive voice (example: "experience with blueprints" becomes "drafted construction blueprints")
  • Use specific names of tools, instruments, software you have used such as Excel, FileMaker Pro, WordPerfect for Windows
  • Maximize industry terminology and jargon, but only if widely used
  • State quantitative terms and measurable results (example: "managed 14 commercial brokers")
  • Always send originals

An Exception to the Rule

One page is no longer the rule of resume length for scannable resumes.  If you have the background and experience, the more keyword points you present about yourself, the more likely you are to be matched to a position by the computer.




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