In follow-up to recent articles I have posted on Parsing Resumes through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs), a number of my readers have requested that I now elaborate on how to format your resume effectively for your on-line job application submissions. You asked, and I listened, so here you go!
The good news here is that there are steps you can take to increase the probability of getting your resume past these screening systems. To do so, will require extra effort on your part, however, once done properly and systematically, should bring you positive results!
Perform your own analysis on how these tips work for you and please do share your positive experiences openly to help others!
Formatting Tips for Posting Resumes On-Line:
- When visiting the prospective employer’s website, try to get a sense of their corporate culture. Do they use precise ‘core words’ to express their values? For example, if the firm professes to have an interest in local charities, green initiatives, etc., include any relevant volunteer work you have done and/or current memberships on your résumé;
- Imitate the keywords used within the job description as closely as possible. For instance, if you are applying for a role as Administrative Manager, confirm that your résumé includes the words “administrative” and “manager”;
- Do not use any kind of graphics, photos, charts, or side page borders;
- Do not use a line across the top or bottom of the page as this confuses the tracking systems, and could well end up throwing your resume out of the systems all together;
- Use a conservative font like Calibri or Verdana, not a script or serif font such as Times New Roman, using a minimum size of 11pt, possibly 12pt if it is more appealing and ‘fits’;
- Use the same fonts and font size in your cover letter submissions as well;
- Do not format your resume using ‘tables’;
- It is best not to use any headers or footers on your resume, including address information, as this too confuses the screening programs, and will likely get deleted;
- Abridge your resume to 1.5-2 pages max – use bullet points, and ‘bold’ activities and/or accomplishments you wish to stress;
- Keep the formatting on your résumé straightforward and streamlined—you do not need to perplex the software;
- Regarding ‘past’ positions – these filtering systems will sometimes get confused about which are the company and/ or, position title, and even the dates you actually worked there – especially if all this information is on one line. To make sure you hit all the categories properly, place this information on separate lines;
- Page margins should ideally be set at one-inch for top and bottom margins;
- Do not ever lie or inflate simply to get pass the screening process! Recruiters are perceptive about tricks that some job seekers use, such as ‘white’ text specific to educational quals; and
- References – only share if & when requested – generally, you should not disclose this information until later in the interviewing process – such as the second round, or final panel interview stages.