¨ Is saved in an approved format — résumé is submitted as a .doc, .docx, or .txt (PDF, RTF, and JPG formats are not ATS-friendly)
¨ Does not use fancy templates, borders, or shading.
¨ Is in a single column format (no tables, multiple columns, or text boxes)ss
¨ Uses simply formatted text of a reasonable size (10 point size or above)
¨ Includes standard fonts (Arial, Georgia, Tahoma, Trebuchet, and Verdana are all “safe” choices)
¨ Does not contain complex formatting (condensed or expanded text) — that is, don’t use extra spaces between letters, because the ATS can’t “read” it.
¨ Include a few, clearly defined sections: Summary, Work Experience, and Education.
¨ Does not contain images or graphics — or, if they do appear, they do not affect the single-column formatting (Be warned, however, that the simple inclusion of any graphics may be enough to “choke” some applicant tracking systems.)
¨ Does not include any information in the headers or footers of the document (if saved in Microsoft Word format)
¨ Has been thoroughly edited and spellchecked and there are no errors. (The ATS will not recognize misspelled words).
¨ Does not include any special characters or accented words.
¨ Contains proper capitalization and punctuation. Both of these can affect how information is parsed and assigned within the ATS database.
¨ Uses the full, spelled-out version of a term in addition to abbreviations and acronyms [i.e., Certified Public Accountant (CPA)]
¨ Incorporates relevant, targeted keywords and phrases for the type of position being sought (have you included specifics — i.e., “Photoshop” instead of “image-editing software”)
¨ Has been customized for the position being sought. “One-size-fits-all” does not work with applicant tracking systems.
Other Do’s and Don’ts for Applicant Tracking Systems:
• When applying for a specific position, do use that job title on the résumé.
• Do include the descriptor “phone:” and “email:” in front of the phone number and email address so the ATS can identify this information.
• When listing dates for employment or education, do put the dates to the right of the information.
• Do consider including section headers in ALL CAPS to make it easy for the applicant tracking system to categorize the information.
• If you are working towards a degree or certification that is a requirement for the position, do include it on the résumé — but make sure you include a phrase such as “Pursuing (name of credential)” or “Degree anticipated (date).”
• Do check your email after applying for a position online. Some applicant tracking systems acknowledge submissions, but because these are automated responses, it may be diverted to your spam folder.
• Do be mindful of special characters and accents you use on your résumé. Some words and phrases can be misinterpreted by an applicant tracking system — for example, accented words. The word “résumé” itself is not ATS-friendly. The ATS does not recognize the accented letters. Instead, it reads it as “r?sum?.”
• Do not list your credentials (MBA, CPA, etc.) next to your name. Include that information on a separate line.
• Do not include skills you don’t possess on the résumé as an attempt to “trick” the applicant tracking system into selecting you. (Remember, the résumé will eventually be reviewed by a human.)
• Do not mix different fonts and sizes in your résumé.
• Do not submit multiple résumés to the same company. Applicant tracking systems have a memory — all those previous submissions remain in the system. You can apply to multiple, related positions, but make sure the résumé information is consistent (i.e., the number of years in a particular job, for example), because the hiring manager will have access to the other versions too.