Ditch Your Visually Appealing Resume for it's Plain Jane Sister

Preparing Your Resume for an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

You've probably heard that your online resume should look different from your offline resume, but you might not know in what ways. Or you might now be wondering, what's the difference between an online and offline resume? When developing a resume, people usually take into consideration how it looks on paper. They create a document that is visually appealing by including different section headers, graphics, charts, or font styles. This version is great for when it's reviewed by a human. But in today's tech world, a human doesn't often review your resume until it goes through a computer.

Some employers use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to screen potential candidates information and determine how qualified they are for the job. An ATS doesn't recognize all the fluff that is included in a typical offline resume, therefore, it is highly recommended to develop an online version of your document to get past this initial computer scan.

        • Prepare a plain text or ASCII document in Microsoft Word. MS Word is the most universally used program. The systems can't always convert PDF, HTML, or Word Perfect documents. Also, please note that the new MS Word .docx format may not be scanable.


        • Remove any fancy lines, headers, graphics, text boxes, ext. Keep the document clean and simple. Place your name and contact information first, followed by your summary, work history, education, computer skills, and associations.


        • Refrain from using document headers and footers. The ATS will not recognize these, which means it will skip over that information. Valuable information, such as your contact information, could be lost.


        • Consistency is key. List your information the same way for each entry. For example, if you include the company name, your position title, location, and dates of employment for your first position, be sure and list it in the same order for every other position.Likewise, list your education and affiliations the same way for each separate entry.

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        • Be sure to include relevant skills and tasks under each appropriate position. Yes, this means you will have to repeat the same information over and over again in some cases. When you place key skills in the summary and not under each corresponding position, the ATS won't be able to quantify that information. If you're an accountant who has prepared expense reports at every position you've held, but only list expense reports under your most recent role that you held for 4 years, the system will think that you only possess 4 years of experience in that area. Make sure the right keywords are listed with each role throughout your work history so the system accurately quantifies your experience.


        • End each company name with Co., Company, Inc., LLC, ext. The system might have trouble catching some company names otherwise.


        • Different positions with the same company should be listed as separate entries. Be sure to include the company name, location, and employment dates again for each role.


        • Utilize a new header for each category. Sometimes different categories are grouped together in a resume (i.e. Education, Languages, and Computer Skills). Listing each category separately makes it easier for the ATS to distinguish what information you have provided. Also, consider only using all caps for section headers.


        • Use the same font style and size throughout the document. We also recommend leaving out symbols and intricate bullets. Keep the document as clean and simple as possible.

According to Preptel, a company specializing in candidate optimization services, 75% of resumes are disregarded for using the wrong words, 20% are set aside due to formatting issues, and only 1% of total applicants will make the cut for an interview. Incorporating these changes into your resume can make a big difference. Click here to view examples of offline and online resumes.

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Posted in Business Other Post Date 01/29/2015






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