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Understanding the Technology
by - The Net's Premier Resume Writing and Editing Service

When your paper resume is received by a human resource department that uses a computerized applicant tracking system, your resume must first be transferred from paper into binary information that a computer can read before it can be stored in the resume database. This is accomplished with a scanner that is connected to a computer running a special kind of software that can examine the dots of ink on your printed page and determine by their shapes which letters they represent. This is called optical character recognition, or OCR for short.

This software matches patterns with sets of characters stored in its memory, which is one of the reasons why it is important to choose a type style (or font) for your resume that conforms to normal letter shapes. If you use a highly decorative type style, the OCR software will have difficulty making matches and will misinterpret letters. This means your words won't be spelled correctly, which of course means that a keyword search for the word bookkeeping will never turn up your resume if the OCR thought you typed bmkkeepmg.

For now, let's assume that you have designed a resume that the scanner can read. First, depending on the company's procedures, your resume will be received directly by the recruiter assigned to fill a certain position (if the job was advertised) or by the human resource department in general (if you have sent your resume unsolicited).

When the recruiter has finished reviewing your information, your resume is added to the stacks of resumes to be processed by the computer that day. A clerk will then put your resume into the automatic feeder bin of a flatbed scanner, separating your resume from the one above and below it with a blank piece of paper. Within seconds, the scanner has passed its light over your pieces of paper and the software interprets the black dots of ink as letters of the alphabet. The computer then begins extracting information to fill in its electronic form, which will become part of your resume in cyberspace.

From Designing the Perfect Resume, by Pat Criscito.
Copyright 2000.  Reprinted by arrangement with Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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