Quick resume tip: Negotiating resume scanning software

Do you know that something as simple as how you put your name on your resume can reject it from resume scanning software?

One of the biggest mistakes that job candidates make is assuming that just because they send a resume to a prospective employer, it will be read. Many people don't consider that, in many cases, that resume will be sent through some kind of resume scanning software. If the software doesn't "find" what it's looking for, your resume may not get passed to the hiring manager. In the coming weeks, we'll offer tips on how to get your resume through the resume scanner.

Tim Heard, the owner of eSearch Associates, a full-service search and consulting firm specializing in technology staffing, pointed out a detail that many people don't concern themselves with when creating an online resume: Your name.

Here are some of the common pitfalls that can keep a resume scanner from even getting your name off your resume.

Text boxes

Tim says, "Many resume databases don't have a mechanism for incorporating the contents of text boxes into the data that they grab." So even if your name is front and center on your resume like it should be, if it's in a text box it might be missed. He remembered one situation in which he received a resume from a very qualified job candidate but the resume scanner pulled her name as "Profile."


Tim says, "Placing your name in a header seems like a good way of saving space. However, some systems don't read headers when looking for contact information either." Also, since resumes often get reviewed without being printed out, and the reviewers have their word processor set so that the headers and footers don't show up, then you're out of luck.

Alphabet soup

You need to list your credentials (e.g., PhD, PMP, CCNA, etc.) somewhere in your resume, but placing those letters right by your name in the resume can screw up its identification.


Some people add a space between letters of their name to space it out for graphical purposes, like this:

J o h n D o e

Tim warns, however, that this practice makes it impossible for most software applications to accurately parse out your name.

By Toni Bowers

Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.