crossposted from LinkedIn

TL;DR: Why isn't there a universal data-format for résumés?

So, here's a thing.

A lot of job application sites will ask you to upload a résumé (henceforth "CV") and then attempt to parse it out into something more like a set of database entries, presumably with the idea of making it easier for prospective employers to search for people with particular types of experience.

The problem is, the parsing software they all seem to use is hot garbage.

I thought at first it was something to do with my CV's decorative layout, so I tried creating a new one from scratch that's laid out with the intention of being minimally confusing for a parsing algorithm. My name and contact info is at the top, then an "Experience" header, followed by sub-headers with the name of each job, with labeled bullet-items under each one which include things like dates worked, tech used, tasks performed, etc.

The algorithm doesn't seem to do any better with this. It picked two work-experience items seemingly at random (including the oldest one, down at the end of the list), and it got the dates completely wrong for the first one (it showed dates which are not given anywhere on my CV; it seems to have completely invented them, for no apparent reason).

Yes, I can go in and manually enter all my work experience -- but I have to do this for every new site where I apply for work, AND -- this is the key thing -- there's no way to SAVE THAT WORK in a format which I can reload elsewhere.

The larger employers and job-hosting web sites need to get their acts together and work this out. Some kind of XML microformat seems like a good idea to me, though JSON would probably work fine too (though I prefer XML because JSON doesn't support comments).


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This got posted to Hacker News. I'm tempted to create an account and join the discussion, but I'm holding off for now because I've already got plenty of time-eating social venues to post on.

I will say that the discussion there is interesting, but people seem to be overlooking my primary motivation in wanting this to happen, i.e. not having to frickin' manually enter my entire frickin' job-history every time I apply for a job on a new venue.

Yes, the job-hunting process is dehumanized and yes I suppose you could argue that greasing the process would just encourage that -- but it would make it easier for the job-seeker, whereas so far most of the greasing has been strictly for the benefit of the employers.

In my view, giving job-seekers more control over their data would be a small step towards rehumanizing the process, since we'd have to waste less time feeding the existing machinery and could also put in a lot more information (it's currently Just Not Worth It for me to enter even half my work-history if I have to do it by hand -- so that effectively gets erased).

This post generated a lot of discussion, including even a few answers.

I've collected all the bits which seem significant here, in the "Follow-up" section..

@nico @sshine @csepp @paulbeard @luc_LMZ

@woozle this is too sensible an idea to ever happen

@nico I've decided it's my job to whine, complain, and refuse to eat my vegetables until the employers start fixing the whole job-hunting process, because it really sucks.

@sshine (Of course it would be JSON. Why do people like JSON so much.) Definitely glad to see that a standard is at least being worked on!

@woozle Doesn't the Europass CV format have a machine readable representation?

@woozle sounds like the kind of thing XML was designed for…a DTD that defines the structure and documents that call it before the data appears. I think the question I would ask is, who benefits from the current situation and who would benefit if there was a Resume Markup Language or whatever? Or to out it more cynically, who gets jobs with resumes today?

@woozle Hello, we try to bring a simple and universal solution to solve the issue at Rezi dot ai . About a year ago we decide to use metadata of document to keep all structured data structured, It's a light and complete transparent solution. Author, creation date of document was already structured information. We export resume with this solution since almost a year...but.. the big issue is to convince resume parser company to read the metadata of document. It's kind of asking them to implement a solution that could kill their business at the end. In front of this issue we decide at Rezi to build our own resume parser and make it open source. First version is still in test, hopefully soon the issue of not parsable resume will be done. But reading metadata of document is a really simple solution, open to everyone and universal for a document type aspect.

@woozle I've been maintaining my resume in XML for years and years. I just invented my own pseudo-DTD (though I'd happily convert to an official one, if/when one can be found!), wrote some XSLT for generating HTML, and away we go. And... Frankly, the raw source XML is probably not something I want to share with most employers (it has comments and other information that gets elided by the HTML stylesheet), but I could (fairly easily) generate an XML->XML stylesheet that I would be happy to share the results of if/when I'm ever job seeking again. That would indeed be nice. Let's make it happen?!?

(P.S. I agree that XML is a better format for this. JSON is great for some stuff, but... this is just the kind of thing that SGML/XML was created for.)

(P.P.S. You could probably find my XML source if you tried. Or e-mail me for a link. I don't think there's anything _too_ private in there... just some stuff I don't normally share.)

@woozle I had a similar thought, actually started an open source project by myself at

My view is to have it similar to html/css paradigm of web. I started working with TOML based schemas for defining CV's, actually wrote my CV in the schema.

If you wanna go forward, I would love to be a contributor, also I would love to get your opinions.

@woozle I've got my resume in a YAML document. It's human readable, though doesn't support comments that wouldn't go to an employer.

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