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Print your resume on a high-quality, light-colored paper (white, off-white, or very light gray). Never use papers with a background (pictures, marble shades, or speckles). The scanner tries to interpret the patterns and dots as letters. This is a good rule to follow even for paper resumes that will never be scanned. Often companies will photocopy your resume to hand to a hiring manager, and dark colors or patterns will simply turn into dark masses that make your resume difficult to read. If a company has multiple locations, the original resume may even get faxed from one site to another and the same thing happens.

Avoid using photocopies of your resume. Original laser printed masters are best, although a high-quality inkjet printer is acceptable. Do not use a dot matrix printer since the letters sometimes touch each other or are not solid.

Print on only one side of the page and use standard-size, 8 11 paper. The scanner cannot turn your page over, so the reverse side might be missed when the clerk puts your resume into the automatic document feeder. That same process is the reason why you should not use 11 17 size paper. The pages would have to be cut into 8 11 sheets and the printing on the reverse side would not get scanned.

Don't fold your resume since the creases make it harder to scan. It is much better to invest in flat, 9 12 envelopes and an extra two bits of postage to make a good first impression. Laser print and copier toner tend to crack off the page when creased, making the letters on the fold line less than solid, which a scanner could easily misinterpret. Staple holes can cause pages to stick together, so never put a staple in a resume you know will be scanned.

Now that you know all the secrets for designing a resume that will pass the scannability test, let's look at some sample resumes that scanned well.


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

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