10 Resume Tips: Creating a Machine-Readable Resume

Posted on

search-field-in-web-browserTimes have changed. Job applicants face an interesting challenge: creating a digital resume that is readable not only by humans, but by the machines that process it.

When you submit an online job application, a tool called a resume parser extracts information from your resume, transferring it to the correct section of your profile. When a recruiter is looking for candidates who match a job description, they may rely on searching and matching software. If your resume wasn’t parsed correctly, you may be overlooked even though you’re a match for the open position.

What can you do to make sure your resume is understood correctly? Sovren, a global provider of resume parsing and searching and matching software, shared their secrets. We’ve summarized some of their resume tips for electronic resumes below.

1. Use Microsoft Word to create your resume – never use PDFs.

We’ve explained why in our previous post, 4 Reasons Why Recruiters Want Your Resume in Word Format.

2. Contact information should be the first item on your resume.

Use a separate line for each element of your contact information, like you would when writing a letter. Never include all contact information on a single line.

3. Use common words for section headers. 

Don’t try to be too creative. If the parser doesn’t recognize a section header, it may not parse the information at all.

4. Don’t combine two resume sections into one.

Unlike humans, when two sections are combined into one, resume parsing software won’t understand which information belongs to which section. Rather than “Education and Training”, use “Education” and “Training”.

5. End company names with common company-related abbreviations. 

Terms like “LLC, Inc., Co., and Corp.”, among others, help the parser to recognize a word as a company name; so it ends up in the ‘company name’ field of work experience in your profile.

6. Include skills within your job descriptions. 

Sophisticated software can determine how many years experience you have with each skill; based on the dates of your employment. It’s still fine to have a separate section for skills if you want to.

7. Avoid “nesting” jobs if you’ve held several positions at the same company. 

Rather than listing multiple positions beneath a company name with dates of employment that encompass all positions, treat each position as a separate job. Make sure to include the company name, location, title and dates of employment for each position.

8. Include start and end dates for every position. 

A resume parser may ignore positions without dates. If you’re still working at a position, use common words such as “Current” or “Present” in place of the end date. Spelling out the month, rather than using the MM/YY abbreviation, will ensure your dates are understood correctly regardless of which country the website is optimized for.

9. Be consistent with how you structure jobs. 

Each job should include the dates of employment, job title, company name, and company location (city/state); followed by the dates of employment. The order of these elements should be the same for every job. If you begin one job with the start and end date; ensure you begin the next job with the dates.

10. Keep formatting simple. 

We’ve mentioned this before in our post 10 Tips to Create an Effective Resume and Get Noticed – it’s also helpful for recruiters.

  • Don’t store information in columns, tables, templates, headers, footers, or fields.
  • Don’t use paragraphs within a single job description; or information may be split up that belongs together.
  • Don’t use images or fonts that create symbols, like Wingdings. When a resume is parsed, images are translated to text. This means that images will either be ignored, or translated to random letters and numbers that don’t make sense.

Is Your Resume Readable by a Resume Parser?

To test whether your resume will be readable by automated recruiting software, copy and paste it into a text editor (like Wordpad or TextEdit). It should still be readable, with the information listed in the same order as your original resume.

Adecco job seekers have unlimited access to our online job search tool to locate job opportunities that best meet their needs. Click here and discover the number of unique programs to help you prepare for your next career move.


Jenni currently works with Adecco’s global Information Management team as a Business SME on the Candidate Management Programme - Social Media. She’s been with Adecco’s Professional Staffing division since 2010 and held roles in on-boarding and compliance, client account management and technical recruiting. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, yoga and working with an animal rescue group.

Comments are closed.