The Right Resume Format To Get You Noticed

The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. Using the right resume format will make sure your application isn’t tossed out just for being unreadable by a machine.

Related: Top 7 Resume Trends For 2015

These days, companies screen candidates and resumes in two ways. The first is through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).

All resumes (including those directly emailed to companies) are loaded into the computer, parsed and automatically searched for a match with keywords from job announcements (or keywords entered into the system by the recruiter/hiring manager). Only those resumes that have a good keyword match are selected for further review by the hiring manager. If a resume cannot be read by the Applicant Tracking Systems, it is rejected.

The second method recruiters and hiring managers use to find candidates is “sourcing” candidates by searching online resumes for possible matches using keywords. Again, if a resume cannot be read by search engines, it will not be selected.

Therefore, you should avoid using JPG and PDF files. Many Applicant Tracking Systems can reliably read only text or Word files without tables. Applicant Tracking Systems cannot read JPG files at all. If a resume is in JPG format, it will not even be seen by the hiring manager. In addition, many older Applicant Tracking Systems also cannot read PDF files, and if an applicant submits a PDF that is not readable, it will also be rejected.

You may be the most qualified candidate, but that you will not be chosen for an interview unless the Applicant Tracking System can read your resume.

If you want a fancy online resume, using PDF as a format is far preferable to JPG, since PDF files can be searched for keywords by search engines. As noted above, you want hiring managers and recruiters to find your resume through online searches. If a search engine cannot read the resume, you will not be found.

I strongly recommend using simple Word formats for resumes, with standard fonts, no tables and margins of at least 0.6 inches.

Resumes like that will print on all printers, will not be rearranged even by outdated versions of Word, can be read by Applicant Tracking Systems and can be searched online.

This post was originally published on an earlier date.

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