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Resumes: When a Picture Isn't Worth 1000 Words

Posted by Colin Kingsbury

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May 1, 2006 11:44:00 AM

I would like to ask all my blog-friends out there with an interest in the subject or resumes (hint: Blue Sky Resumes) to please spread the word that resumes formatted as images are not a good thing.

It doesn't happen often, but we see a lot of resumes here, and once out of every thousand or so, we get a resume that looks perfect when you open it up in Word or Acrobat, but doesn't get parsed properly. The reason: the document contains a picture of a resume instead of text. Usually this happens when someone scans a paper resume and forgets to select the "OCR" option, but sometimes it's obvious the jobseeker did it on purpose.

Chances are anyone who is reading this blog knows that all kinds of employers use applicant tracking systems like Resume Direct to help organize their resume flow. Resume parsing and keyword searching are two of the main reasons companies use these tools, and these will only work when the resume is in a text-based format like Word, HTML, PDF, or ASCII. We actually support over 35 formats, so you can use just about anything, except an image of a resume!

Whenever I see people doing things like this, I suspect it's because some self-proclaimed expert told them "it's a good idea because it makes sure companies will see it formatted properly" or something similar. Trust me: proper formatting is nice, but coming up in a keyword search is much more important.

Other systems "prevent" this by forcing candidates to enter resumes as text only, or to fill out multi-part forms to get the data in the format the system wants. Resume Direct doesn't do that for the simple reason that we don't want to create barriers to submitting an application. Our email-based application process, which is unique in the applicant tracking industry, allows recruiters to post jobs anywhere and make applying as easy as possible. Systems which add unnecessary steps to the application process don't just prevent bad data--they also prevent good candidates with better things to do from applying in the first place.