Skip to main content

Resume Template? Not So Simple – Do This Instead

Writing a resume seems to be so much easier now that there are nice looking and colorful templates available with a search online, however many employers and career center staff, including ours, would advise you to NOT use a template.

In addition to being inflexible and difficult to personalize, resume templates may also keep you from being seen by an employer – the exact opposite of your goals. With an increase in online applications, more employers are using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) software to sort and rank job applicants automatically. This software can screen applicants, test them, check references, and complete new hire paperwork. With 98% of Fortune 500 companies using ATS to screen applicants, make sure your resume is formatted so it isn’t among the 75% that get screened out before a person sees it. Here’s how to make an ATS friendly resume.

10 Tips To Make An ATS Friendly Resume:

  1. Use one software program (e.g., google docs or Microsoft Word) to make the resume and save it as a pdf directly from that program. Resumes that are downloaded from one program to another and then turned into a pdf do not retain the formatting and may look like a disorganized mess to the Applicant Tracking System.
  2. Pick the right layout. Simple, clear, concise and readable is important for computer screening systems and the human recruiters it will eventually reach. While the ATS software can read through basic formatting (bold, underline, italics, bullets) and even columns, it is best to avoid tables, blocks and graphics. Save the graphic resume to post in a place that a person will see it instead of uploading it to an employer database.
  3. Use appropriate fonts. Recommended fonts to use are Garamond, Calibri, Cambria, Georgia, Times New Roman, Helvetica, and Arial. Recommended size should be between 8 and 12 (10-12 is better for the human who will eventually see it). Use the same size font throughout the resume.
  4. Include details that the software will look for, such as city, state, zip code, full company name, position title, and month/year for dates.
  5. Include unabbreviated keywords in context. Hiring managers search for keywords that match their needs for a position. If you have the right keywords (often skills and qualities) in your resume, it is more likely to be seen. Look for clues in the position description and the hiring manager’s profile and include the ones that are a match for you. Don’t just list them – add some context, such as Technical Skills, Languages, Certifications, or use them within a description of your position. If an acronym or abbreviated word is a keyword, you can add it after the spelled out word in parenthesis but use periods (e.g., B.S.).
  6. Don’t use columns unless they are within a section, such as a list of skills or courses. Computers read left to right and will not see lines or spaces between columns. Use punctuation or bullet points to differentiate between the items.
  7. Keep degree separate from major. List your degree as Bachelor of Science or Arts and when it is expected. List your major(s) and minors separated by a comma next to the degree or by writing Major: Linguistics.
  8. Experience should be in the section titles. It can be called different types of experience, such as Related Experience, Work Experience, Volunteer Experience or Leadership Experience.
  9. Quantify experiences when you can. The software looks for accomplishments. You can signal these to the system by saying statements such as “Performed X to do Y resulting in Z.” Use % or $ to indicate that this is quantifiable information and should be distinguished from other numbers in your resume.
  10. Don’t use a template. As mentioned above, Google and Word templates may seem easy but they create several roadblocks for making an effective and readable resume that will be appreciated by computer systems and human recruiters. 

The Center for Career Advancement has created a google document that is not a template, however it does provide a basic format you can use to get started with your resume, along with many of these tips. We encourage you to make a copy of the document and adjust the format, while considering the included guidelines, to make a resume that best shows your skills and accomplishments. Once you have created a draft, make an appointment on Handshake to have a career coach review it with you.

Related Articles

Comments are closed.