Tuesday, March 25, 2008


by Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge.com Managing Editor, CPRW, SME

Like it or not, we are all caught in the loop of modern technology. Place a call to your favorite store or banking institution and you’re usually dealing with voice mail and automated menus, rather than reaching a human being.

The same is now true when you send your resume to the human resources department of major and mid-sized corporations (and in increasing numbers, hiring managers at smaller companies). Because hundreds or even thousands of individuals apply for one opening, software that is preset to determine applicant skills and qualifications is used to “weed out” those individuals who don’t match the job criteria.

Therefore, to make the most of a job search, it’s essential for the modern resume to:

1. Be in the appropriate format that can be read by optical character recognition (OCR) software, if the targeted company is using this.

2. Contain essential keywords* related to the job opening or industry.

* Keywords are nouns or noun phrases that the software has been programmed to search for. The more keywords or “hits” the software finds in the resume, the more likely the document will be read by a human resources professional. In fact, for some federal job openings, a resume must have a 95%, or higher, hit rate if the candidate is to be given serious consideration. That is, a moment of the hiring authority’s time, and perhaps even an interview.

Sound daunting?

It doesn’t have to be when you know the tricks of the trade in creating this modern resume. The essentials include:

1. The technology you’ll be dealing with
2. How to find keywords and make the most of them
3. Your contact information (Name)
4. Your contact information (Address/Phone/Email)
5. What fonts are scanner friendly
6. Formats to use
7. Paper

OCR Technology

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) was developed in the 70’s by Ray Kurzweil, a graduate of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Although Mr. Kurzweil’s intent was to develop a machine (known as the Kurzweil Reading Machine) that helped visually impaired individuals to read printed materials, OCR technology has since become indispensable in modern business.

Generally speaking, what OCR means to the modern job hunter is that initially a computer rather than a human being will be scanning the resume for appropriate content. Since machines are not impressed by font style/size or formatting enhancements, content is all-important as is presenting your document in a scanner-friendly manner. With computer technology changing daily, scanner-friendly may mean a document that’s stripped of all formatting and enhancements or one that bears some formatting that can be read by the more modern software.

However, regardless of which format is used, content is still essential, beginning with keywords.


Keywords are nouns or noun phrases indicating a candidate’s skill set or qualifications as they pertain to the current job search.

Examples of keywords for an Administrative Assistant might be:

* Typing 90 wpm
* Dictation
* Microsoft Word
* Microsoft Excel
* Microsoft PowerPoint
* Reception
* Phone Support

For an Accountant keywords might be:

* Tax Accounting
* Reconciliations
* General Ledger
* Profit and Loss Statements

Where to Find Keywords

1. Current and Previous Job Descriptions.

In most positions, employees are given job descriptions. Using these, pull out nouns or noun phrases of what you do on a daily basis as long as those tasks are still relevant to your current job search.

2. Resumes.

Cull data from the Professional Experience and Skill sections of your current or old resumes. These daily duties will provide relevant and significant keywords for your scannable resume.

3. Job Postings.

These are perhaps the most significant resource a candidate can use. By dovetailing past experience with required qualifications and skills, a candidate is effectively targeting the new job, while enhancing candidacy.

How to Use Them

Here, you have two options:

1. Create a keyword list for inclusion at the very beginning of your resume
2. Sprinkle keywords throughout your resume.

A keyword list at the beginning of your resume would read like this (for a Senior Product Manager):

Pharmaceutical Marketing. Territory Growth. Market Share. Opportunity Mining. Physician Rapport. Marketing Strategies. Budget Oversight. Targeted Goals. Sales Force Leadership. Problem Resolution. Market Data Analysis. Sales Forecasting. Productivity Monitoring. Performance Enhancement. Sales Representative Training. Product Launches. Microsoft Office. Microsoft Outlook. Microsoft Excel. Master of Arts in Marketing. Medical Doctor. Emergency Room Experience. Zithromax. Diflucan. M.D. Bilingual. Spanish Fluency. English Fluency.

Keywords in a Qualifications Summary would read like this (for a Senior Product Manager):

Dynamic, effective Physician and Pharmaceutical Marketing Professional with a strong background in maintaining standards of honesty and integrity while mining new opportunities for territory growth and market share. Easily establishes rapport with physicians based on a background that includes a Master’s Degree in Marketing, a Medical Degree, and emergency room experience. Creative problem-solver experienced in devising new strategies for Zithromax and Diflucan to eliminate lost sales to generic brands. Client-oriented with superb communication and organizational skills in preparing successful marketing strategies, overseeing budgets, and leading a sales force towards targeted goals. Fluent in Spanish and English. Technically proficient in Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel, and Outlook.

Remember, the more closely your background matches the qualifications of the new job, the more likely it is that you’ll be invited to interview.

Contact Information

Your Name

It’s always wise to put your name on each page of your scannable resume. Why? If one of the pages of your three-page resume gets separated from the others, it will be nearly impossible for the administrative assistant handling it to know where it might belong. It’s best to avoid this situation by putting your name at the top of each page, along with a page number.

Physical/Email Address

In addition to your street address, including your city, state and zip, it’s important to include an email address. With today’s technology, a hiring manager most often contacts successful candidates by phone or by email. Because of the importance of email correspondence in a job search, it’s wise to choose an email that is businesslike in tone, rather that one which reflects a special interest or a nickname.

For example, the following would be considered inappropriate:





Another consideration is to avoid using work-related email addresses. Hiring managers are rarely interested in interviewing someone who is using their current employer’s time or email system to look for another job. The key is: Always be professional

Phone Numbers

In addition to your home phone number, it’s sometimes wise to include a cell phone number, especially if that’s your easiest point of contact. However, be certain of the quality of your cell phone and service provider before offering the number. Nothing is more frustrating to a hiring manager than to conduct a cell phone conversation through static and breaks in conversation due to poor technology.

In modern resumes, fax numbers are rarely provided. Most hiring managers will not fax an interview request to prospective candidates.

Never include current work phone numbers in your scannable resume. Hiring managers think poorly of candidates who use a current employer’s time to search for new opportunities.

Scanner Friendly Fonts

Since scanning equipment may differ from company to company, it’s best to err on the conservative side when choosing fonts that will be easily read by the software. Therefore, avoid all “designer” fonts that are difficult for a human being to read. If anything, the scanning software will have even more difficulty. It’s best to stick with classic fonts such as Arial, which is san serif or Times New Roman, which is a serif font. Other good choices are Garamond, Bookman, Courier New, and Century Schoolbook.

Font size

Don’t make the software work extra hard to read all the characters in your resume. It’s best to use a font size between 9 and 12, depending upon the font.

Effective Formatting

Unlike resumes being read by a human audience, scannable resumes must be easy-to-read by computer software. Therefore, it’s essential to stick to basics and avoid formatting headaches. Your best choice is to:

1. Be certain all type is flush left
2. Separate sections with white spaces, rather than dashes (--), dots (. . .), or tildes (~~~).
3. Do not use tables
4. Do not use graphics
5. Put section headers in ALL CAPS


If you are “snail” mailing your scannable resume – that is, going through the US Postal Service for delivery to an employer or employers, then you should consider using a professional business stock of paper in a business size – 8 ½ x 11. The choice in colors should err on the conservative side – that is, white, cream, and in some cases a very pale gray with no graphics or borders whatsoever. Fine quality business stock can be found at any business supply store or chain. When mailing your document, be certain not to fold or staple the pages as this may reduce the accuracy of the scanning software.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


by Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge.com Managing Editor, CPRW, SME

For those individuals who have just graduated from high school or those who have faced lengthy unemployment because of downsizing in their field, there may be a sense of what do I do now? Where can I best use my strengths?

As with every other endeavor in life, it’s best to determine what you want and what you’re capable of doing, before composing a resume that lacks focus, and then submitting it for jobs you neither want nor expect to get. Rather, take the following steps to get focused and stay-on-point in your resume writing and job search.


Rather than focusing on what you had or should have, be realistic and flexible in your job search. If you’re uncertain of the field, research those you are most interested in – forget the rest. Once you’re into the targeted industry, research the job postings for entry-level or experienced employment that is a good fit with your academic or professional experience. Most postings list Qualifications sought in an employee. Review these to see if what the company’s looking for matches your skills. Again, it’s important to be flexible. No job is perfect. And what may seem just tolerable at first may very well turn out to be the perfect job for you or even a chance at that higher position you really want.


Let’s say the fields or industries you’re interested in aren’t hiring – what then? Use keywords (i.e. tech writer, taxation, mechanic) in online searches that may very well produce industries and fields you never considered. Again, be flexible. And always determine how your strengths fit with the employer’s needs.


Nothing is worse, and less effective, than sending the same resume to different industries for diverse positions. Hiring managers don’t have the time – nor will they take the time – to read every line of a resume in the hopes that you have the skills they want. You must tailor each resume to each opening. Use keywords from job postings in your opening summary, make certain to reflect how your skills match those asked for in the advertisement, and determine which of your qualifications is transferable to this industry. It sounds like a lot of work, but in the long run it causes you to be focused and will take months off your job search.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


by Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge.com Managing Editor, CPRW, SME

There are generally three cover letter types for the jobseeker:

1. Those sent to a specified person (eg: the hiring authority)

2. Those sent in response to a “blind” advertisement (eg: only PO Box or Job Reference # is provided)

3. Those sent to recruiters

Cover Letters Sent to a Specific Person

When you have the hiring manager’s name, always use it in the salutation, no exception. This personalizes the letter and shows attention to detail on your part. In the opening paragraph, state the job for which you’re applying as the hiring manager may have posted for numerous company openings that week. In the body of your cover letter detail what qualifications and skills you have that relate to this new job opening.

Cover Letters Sent in Response to a “Blind” Posting

Often, a job seeker will reply to newspaper ads requesting that a resume and cover letter be sent to a PO Box # with no indication as to the company’s name or the hiring manager’s identity. Online, jobseekers will find Job Reference #’s as the only identification provided. In each of these cases, the cover letter content remains the same – showcase experience and qualifications as it relates to the new position. However, rather than using the outdated “Dear Sir or Madam,” or worse “To Whom It May Concern,” as a salutation, instead drop the salutation altogether and write:

Re: Job Reference # (then include the number in the job posting)

- or –

Re: Assistant Store Manager’s Position

After that reference, drop down one line, then begin the cover letter’s first paragraph.

Cover Letters Sent to Recruiters

Recruiters represent clients in terms of finding the appropriate employee (you) for a company (their client). Because of this, you must be clear in your cover letter as to what your preferred industry and position may be, where you’re willing to work (and travel or relocate, if necessary), and salary considerations (if negotiable, include this information). The remainder of your cover letter will contain the same data as that going to a specified hiring manager or a “blind” posting – that is, you will include your skills and qualifications as they relate to your preferred industry and position. In other words, you will be selling yourself to a recruiter, rather than to a hiring manager.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


by Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge.com Managing Editor, CPRW, SME

Unlike times past where being an American meant knowing only about our country and speaking English exclusively, an increasingly global economy means that additional skills are valued.

To ensure that your overseas work receives the attention and consideration it deserves from American hiring managers, showcase the following:


If you worked in a non-English speaking country and are already fluent (or have perfected your skills) in a foreign language, mention that in your cover letter and in the opening summary of your resume. In many American locales (especially the South and Southwest), fluency in a foreign language is desired, and in some instances, required.


Again, if you’re applying for positions within a major metropolitan area where there are numerous foreign nationals and immigrants, knowledge of their home country’s culture and mores is indispensable. This would be especially true if your chosen career is in HR or any other discipline in which you’ll need to interact with staff.


This is a valuable skill that you can bring to a prospective employer. Rather than having to guess at what will make the wheels of commerce work, they’ll have an in-house subject matter expert (you) to guide them through the intricacies of dealing with individuals in overseas locations.


Switching from one country’s set of rules to another can be bewildering and exhausting. However, if you excelled within the social and professional milieus of a foreign country, this provides ample evidence to a hiring manager that you are adaptable to changing environments. This is especially valued as the global economy is ever changing.


Even if your religious or political activities were lauded in your overseas assignment, don’t make the mistake of bringing that cultural preference to this country. If you respect what’s valued in America (while here), just as you respected what was valued in another nation (while there), you’ll do well to impress a hiring manager with your expertise.