How to Create a Searchable Resume

You can't always hand your resume to a potential employer, so help them find it.
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Making your resume highly searchable before uploading it to a job bank website or large employer's database can give you an advantage when employers seek out candidates who meet their criteria. Not only does the information you include matter, but learning the best way to format your resume can improve your chances of it being found in a search, as well.

File Format

    The format you use to save your resume can either help it become searchable or prevent employers from finding it. For instance, you may not be able to search for keywords in a PDF file, but word processor documents and text files are easy to scan for specific words and phrases. If you save your resume in Microsoft Word format, choose the older .doc version over the more recent .docx, as some employers may not be able to open the latter type of file.


    For searchability, a plain text resume may be your best bet. If you use a Word document, ignore the urge to dress it up with graphics, tables, fields or other objects. These often fail to convert properly when uploaded to resume databases and turn into a jumble of meaningless characters, making it more difficult for anyone to search your resume. Avoid using templates or entering information into the header or footer of the document. Use simple lines or paragraphs and basic bullet points instead.

Searchable Text

    Using keywords in your resume makes it highly searchable. Determine the words and phrases an employer is likely to search for when seeking to fill your ideal position. For instance, if you are looking for a job as an office manager, employers might search for "bachelor's degree" or "back office operations." Once you have decided which keywords to use, incorporate them naturally into your resume by including them in your objective, work history or other sections.

Scanning a Resume

    If you have a paper resume that you want to scan and send to an employer via email or upload to a job search database, don't include formatting, graphics or other features that may not be readable by the business's optical character reading software, or OCR. Basic text resumes work best for this purpose. Manually recreating the document may be time consuming, but well worth the effort it takes to make it more searchable.

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