Scannable Resumes

Parsing Errors: Maximizing Your Resume’s Potential in HR Software

You probably think that when you send a resume to an employer, someone is holding it in hand or at the very least, skimming over it in Word, just reading all about you and how you’ll help the company. Unfortunately, that’s sort of Victorian logic when it comes to hiring practices. Nowadays, human resources use software that looks for keywords, analyzing for the right criteria and compiling information about you to ensure that you’re a good candidate. Some people never make it to the desks of the employers simply because they’re not doing a couple things right on the resume to get past this computerized net. If you feel like you’ve got all the experience in the world, and you’re not getting any bites, this could be your issue. Parsing issues are caused when HR software skips or garbles information so that not everything is sent to the employer. These are some ways that you can optimize your resume so it ranks high in HR software.

1. Use a text-based format.
You never want to send in a graphics-based or PDF-based resume. The HR software can’t really penetrate graphics to scan and compile data on you. It will only show pretty pictures and give nothing back to a human resources manager. You should stick to MS Word documents because they are universally accepted and it will cause fewer problems for the software to read.

2. Never use graphics on electronically submitted resumes.
Even if you really like your logo or you’ve got a personal symbol for your resume, just leave it off if you are emailing or digitally submitting your resume on a website. These will actually cause more errors during the parsing process for the software and it could lead to your resume appearing garbled.

3. Always include your address.
One of the software tricks is to scan for local zip codes. If you leave your address off hoping to trick the employer into giving you a shot, you’ll just fall to the bottom of the list because you don’t have an address. Instead, just be honest or you may be able to use a P.O. Box if you are moving to the area.

4. Avoid using headers and footers.
HR software only compiles information from the main body of the resume, excluding headers and footers. The software won’t pick up any kind of contact information about you if you put it in these areas, so never place anything important in these text boxes. You should actually just move important information down to the main body of your resume anyway.

5. Pick a standard layout.
There are some innovative software programs out there that can get around formatting conventions, but not all of them are this sophisticated. You should just do a standard block style resume and keep it plain. The recruiter won’t take the time to fix errors usually and you’ll lose out if your creative format created a parsing error.

6. Utilize keywords.
You really need to look at keywords for your field and place these in your resume as much as you can. Study the job description, look at other qualifying resumes, find sites that pertain to your field and pick up on the key trends to include in your resume. You can also search LinkedIn profiles to see how others are using keywords in your field.

7. Be specific to the job.
Every job is going to be different, and you should treat it as such. You should have different resumes that have separate keywords and focus on different achievements to make a bigger impact on the HR software. You should read the job posting carefully and tailor your resume according to what you see in the description.

8. Keep it interesting.
Your resume should read like a fact sheet on you with some highlights, facts and personalized characteristics. It shouldn’t read like anyone else’s and you definitely shouldn’t copy formatting from another resume that you found on LinkedIn. Recruiters often see the same kinds of resumes, using the same keywords and incorporating boring general skills that aren’t going to make an impression. Focus on what you’ve done instead of what you want to do or what you have the potential for. Incorporate new ideas into your resume and also let your experience shine with specific projects, achievements, skills, certifications and talents. This will show a recruiter just how passionate you are about the job and that you know what you’re doing.