Can computer software read your resume? If not, you don't exist!

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invisible man

If the computer can't see you, you're just as invisible as this guy.

flickr/Ariaski

Over 50% of large companies and most recruiters use resume parsing software to analyze your resume. If the software parses it wrong, you may never be called for an interview. Read on and learn the critical rules you must follow.

I came across a free webinar that has forever changed the way I think about writing and formatting resumes. Prior to this webinar, I had always felt that you should have your resume in two primary formats:

• One that’s formatted and looks great
• One that looks good with no formatting at all, for use when asked to upload your resume via a text box on a web page

Well, there is a third version, one that can be properly "parsed" and converted into database tables for use in SQL-based searches. Think about it, if your zip code ends up in the phone field and your email address is classified as a company name, your contact information will never be found, and neither will you!

Some of the basic rules to ensure your resume parses include:

• Your name and contact info should be in the body of the document, never in the header or footer. Headers and footers are almost never parsed--and you wonder why nobody calls?
• Do not use any graphics (no lines, logos, or images) since the software can convert them to ASCII text and numbers which can replace your contact info--especially if they are put on top.
• Include the “Inc.”, “LLC” and other similar company name extensions. This helps the parser identify the company name versus your title or anything else it sometimes grabs. If you had three positions at the same company, put the company name at the top of EACH job. It sounds redundant, but it works and ensures the parser knows it has reached the next position to be processed.
• Dates should be spelled out and in a standardized format that can be correctly analyzed by the resume parser (June 2009, not 6/09).
• Do not use tables or columns--the parser reads these top to bottom, not left to right--so your information can get put in the wrong fields.

There were dozens of other suggestions, but I don’t want to steal the webinar’s thunder.

The speaker, Ted Finch of IQ Tech Pros, also gave additional advice to consider:

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