Resume Formatting Best Practices
Resumes should have clean, professional formats that are optimized for Applicant Tracking Systems.
Definition of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) – Software applications that are used by employers to manage the entire recruitment process, from receiving applications to hiring employees.
Why does the Résumé Team make such a big deal about ATS? – When a résumé is uploaded, it will most likely not be read by a human until it is read by the ATS. The résumé writer writer’s goal is to optimize the résumé for ATS so that it eventually gets into the hands of a person.
ATS Formatting Guidelines
- Fonts – ATS can read most standard fonts
–Sans Serif fonts: Arial, Arial Narrow, Calibri, Century Gothic, Lucida Sans, Tahoma, Trebuchet, Verdana
–Serif fonts: Book Antiqua, Bookman, Cambria, Century Schoolbook, Garamond, Georgia, Palatino Linotype, Times New Roman
- Symbols – Use asterisks, dashes, hash tags… only symbols found on your keyboard.
- Borders and Lines – Fine to use if not touching any text. If in doubt, leave them out.
- Bullets – Fine to use but avoid fancy shapes. Make sure bullet is not touching any text.
- Name – List name and name alone on first line of the document.
- Contact Information – Use city/state/zip code for local search, or omit if more beneficial to your client. List one phone number and one email address. You may include LinkedIn profile and/or other links. Links should be made live.
- Abbreviations and Acronyms – Spell out the first time, show acronym in parentheses, and then use just the acronym.
- Section Headings – It is essential to use common headings…Summary, Career Summary, Profile, Professional Profile, Professional Experience, Work Experience, Experience, Employment History, Education, Education & Training (or separate Education and Training headings) Certifications Technology Profile, Technical Expertise, Technical Skills, Professional Activities, Community Involvement, Languages…
- Employment Experience – List company name first, with location (city and state). List the job title, with dates (months and years preferred). List every job separately with dates, description, and accomplishments – no job “stacking.”
ATS Formatting Dos and Don’ts
- Do stick to standard fonts
– Sans Serif fonts: Arial, Arial Narrow, Calibri, Century Gothic, Lucida Sans, Tahoma, Trebuchet, Verdana
– Serif fonts: Book Antiqua, Bookman, Cambria, Century Schoolbook, Garamond, Georgia, Palatino Linotype, Times New Roman
- Do only list one phone number
- Do make LinkedIn addresses and websites live for easy accessibility
- Do not use Headers and footers for important information, such as contact information; ok to use for page numbers
- Do not use graphs, charts, graphics, or logos
- Do not use accent marks
- Do not include parentheses or quotation marks for client name
– For a nickname, use a dash after the last name (Shou-Yan Wang – Jason)
- Do not send PDFs… always Word (PDFs are not universally recognized….yet)