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Scannable Resumes/CVs


Disciplines > Job-finding > Resume / CV > Scannable Resumes/CVs

Classic structure | Simple format | Focused words | See also


When you submit your resume/CV, whether it is electronic or in paper, there is a good chance that it will be scanned for key items that the recruiter is seeking. It is therefore important to ensure you format it in a way that helps the scanning software.

Classic structure

Avoid inventing your own structure as this will only confuse the scanning software and at worst result in you not being put through.


Use standard headings as indicated in the various other pages and summarised on the Resume / CV main page.

For section headings, use CAPITALS to signal the difference between normal text and the fact of this being a heading. Try to limit nested sub-sections as this be more difficult for scanning software to parse.

Bold face may be acceptable, and is generally preferred


For the first Header, just put your name only. Nothing else. The scanner may not recognize the 'PhD' after your name, resulting in a strange surname.


Where you use dates, beware of confusion where '01/02/10' could either mean the second of January or the first of February. An unambiguous common format is '01-Jan-10' or '01 January 2010'.

When just writing a year, write the full year number, such as '2010' rather than just '01'.

Simple format


Use common fonts such as Courier, Times Roman and Arial that the scanner software will be able to detect. Avoid in particular cursive scripts that mimic handwriting.

No tables

Avoid tables as these also will confuse the software. You can use tabs as these will be taken as separators, but remember that neat columns will disappear.

A better alternative to a table is to put things in sequential rows with perhaps font size and weight indicating headings.

So, instead of writing:


Date Company Job
Jan 2007 to Feb 2009 Wilkins Co. Lighting Engineer
Feb 2009 to Mar 2010 Watkins Lp. Lighting Manager




JAN 2007 TO FEB 2009

Wilkins Co.

Lighting Engineer

FEB 2009 TO MAR 2010

Watkins Lp.

Lighting Manager


White space

Generally speaking 'white space' is used by software systems to detect separation, so use it often and use it with care.

White space are characters that you cannot see and include normal spaces, tabs and carriage returns ('Enter' key).

Focused words

Scanning software often looks for particular words and will reject a resume/CV that does not include these.


Nouns are used to describe 'things', including skills, knowledge, places and systems, so make good use of these, mentioning clearly all the things you can do.


There may be other keywords that the recruiter will be seeking, such as action verbs like 'implemented', 'completed' and so on.

A good way to find keywords is to look at the job description, where the common language of the recruiter may be evident.

Short sentences

Keep your sentences short and clear. This not only helps a real person reading it, but any electronic parsing system is also less likely to make mistakes.

New developments

In previous years scanning systems were not very sophisticated and you had to leave out all formatting. Fortunately, systems have improved, although there is always a risk of encountering one of the older systems, so the style you use depends on how 'safe' you want to be.

See also

Resume/CV Language


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