Looking to get hired quickly? Ditch the fancy PDF resume. Sure, it is wondrous to look at, but if you aren’t communicating directly with a CEO chances are that your resume will be filtered through an ATS. An ATS (Applicant Tracking System) tries to digest all the information from your resume and convert that into usable data. It will search for keywords that match up to the job description, and other bits of information to see if you are a good fit for the open job. If your resume isn’t able to be parsed by the system, it won’t match you to an opening.

Did you know? More than 95% of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS.

So…can you stand out by fitting in? Absolutely. Your content is how you do that, not the layout/design. There is some great advice on a recent article by The Ladders:

  • Keep things simple. One column is preferred versus two. Tables, borders, text boxes can confuse the ATS
  • Use MS Word or Google Doc when available. These are easily dissectible, versus an image file like PDF.
  • Identify yourself early and clearly. Resumes that start with photos or graphics complicate the process. Call out your name, contact information at the beginning to let the ATS know it “reading” a real resume
  • Separate yourself through writing. Christine Watson, Marketing Director at DaXtra Technologies: “Keep things simple and clear. Write with honesty and use keywords like skills, job titles wisely.”

Creating a clean, easily viewed resume is part of the game. There are templates online can help with the formatting, but the secret to having your resume rise to the top is the extra effort you put into it to have it correlate to the opening applied for. A little extra effort can go a long way. I hope this helps in your search!