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Tips to Optimize Your Resume Readability by Applicant Tracking Systems

While you were busy contributing to your role and growing your career, Human Resource, Talent Acquisition and Recruiting Firms were working with technology companies to optimize the efficiency of their recruiting processes.

If you are posting your resume to job boards or company website career postings, most likely your resume will not be viewed by a person. Before a human being ever views your credentials, your resume is read, parsed, and classified by an automated recruiting software platform. Today’s popular ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software use AI bots to scan resumes for predetermined ‘match’ factors such as job titles, hard and soft skills, education, and other job description specific criteria. Cute and fancy words as well as creative designs will not make your resume standout. In fact, in many cases your resume may end up in the ‘no’ file as the automated parsing, searching, and matching bots will not recognize enough of the keywords.

First and foremost, you want to be found by recruiters and HR experts. It is advisable to have two formats of your resume. One for ATS filters and one for human view. Once your resume makes it to the ‘yes’ stack and you are in the queue for an interview, you can send your ‘power’ resume that includes the beautiful designs and extra touches. Transition Corner is here to help you increase the odds that the ATS software will match you to a specific job description. Then let the games begin – you are in the arena!

Get to the ‘Yes’ Stack – Tips to Optimize Your Resume Readability by Applicant Tracking Systems:

  • To minimize conversion problems, Word format is preferred over PDF files. Text cannot always be correctly extracted from many types of PDF files. Also remember that recruiters have a disdain for PDF files as they are not able to edit. Additionally, many recruiter databases do not have parsing capability with PDF files.
  • Always reference proper company names. For example, always end a company name with Inc., Co., Company, LLC or other. ‘Procter & Gamble’ or ‘P&G’ may not be recognized. To be safe, ‘Procter & Gamble, Inc.’ should be referenced.
  • Employment dates matter! Omitting dates may get your resume sent to the ‘no’ pile. It is preferred to use written months and four-digit years such as ‘May 2015 – June 2020’.
  • Consider adding a ‘skills’ section for each position in your work history descriptions. Advanced ATS software are capable of computing total years of experience for each target skill.
  • Skip the creative and focus on simple.
    1. Avoid using columns, tables, fields, or multi-column formats. The software will scramble the text or completely ignore the text.
    2. Avoid using graphics as parsing software will not recognize any data contained in the graphic. This is great for emphasizing a specific point on your resume when sending to a human being for sure; however, the bots may toss you out before a human gets eyes on your resume.
    3. Always avoid using Headers and Footers. Headers and Footers cause big issues for the software bots.