How to Format Your ATS Resume

Updated: Jul 21

As an applicant, you have to enhance your resume’s readability for both human and machine; otherwise, you risk having your application rejected at the outset.


Table of Contents:

  1. Overview of ATS Friendly Formatting

  2. Tips to Format Your ATS Resume

  3. Final Thoughts

1. Overview Of ATS Resume Formatting

For total effectiveness, an ATS must isolate all the details in your resume and compare them with the job requirements. As an applicant, you have to enhance your resume’s readability; otherwise, you risk having your application rejected.

While ATS systems such as Taleo have improved with the advancement of technology, you still need to embrace some essential rules to make your resume a standout. That said, below are the tips for formatting your ATS resume.

2. Tips To Format Your ATS Resume

A. Check Your Grammar and Spelling

Your resume is one of the most critical documents in your job hunt. You want it to stand out from the other applicants and reflect your potential. Spelling and grammar mistakes will diminish the chances of your resume being on the waiting list.

The ATS will validate common spelling mistakes; however, complex and grammatical errors will confuse the system. Either way, your resume has a higher chance of rejection.

Meanwhile, you can check out the tips below if your application is to stand a chance:

  • Incorporate the spell check feature in your word processor

  • Take your time and read through your resume at least twice to identify common mistakes

  • Print it out and carefully go through each line to identify mistakes that you may have left out when reading as a soft copy

  • Ask a friend or a close relative to assess it for you; encourage them to be honest for efficiency

  • Incorporate an alternative checker like Grammarly so that your resume is easy to read. The free version will be sufficient for examining your resume

B. Maximize on an ATS-friendly Resume Template

You want to get shortlisted for an interview, and as such, using a creative resume template will increase your chances. However, it’s difficult for most ATS machines to scan documents with graphic components, images, or eccentric fonts.

Therefore, use ATS-friendly resume templates accessible online. Often, these templates are tailored explicitly for ATS by incorporating easy-to-read layouts and minimum designs.

C. Sprinkle Job-Related Keywords

Sprinkling relevant keywords throughout your resume will enhance your chances of getting shortlisted. This is critical even for an executive resume.

The ATS will examine specific job-related keywords and decide whether you fit the set specifications. Further, adding these keywords to your LinkedIn profile will enhance your online visibility.

But how do you identify these keywords? Carefully read through the job description and identify the most used words. For example, a software agency hiring an IT expert might include the following keywords in their listings to describe the skills they are anticipating:

  • Software development

  • Network management

  • Database administration

  • Technical support

  • Creative thinker

When writing your resume, take note of such keywords and include them in the skills section to convince the ATS that you’re the right applicant for the job.

D. List Your Education Background Correctly

Many of the ATS software is designed to outline GPA scores and college degrees. And because education systems vary from different parts of the world, the ATS will differently approach your education background. If your scores are different from that of ATS, there are still simple ways to outline your education for easy readability by the ATS.

Usually, the minimal requirement is to outline the college’s name and the town and city. After that, list the course and the date of completion. You may also incorporate additional details like grades or achievements. Outline them in this order to make things easier for the ATS.

E. Check Your Design and Format Appropriately

This is not the right time to showcase fancy designs. Large companies like Emirates are conservative when it comes to resumes. Simple formatting will go a long way to enhance your qualifications.

Tons of websites offer resume templates for ATS similarity. However, if you plan to use your template, the following guidelines might be of help:

  • Avoid using pictures, tables, and non-standard bullet points in your resume. This type of formatting is complex, and as such, the ATS cannot examine your resume appropriately. You also risk having your application rejected immediately.

  • Use fonts like Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, or Tahoma throughout your CV because the ATS may not detect fancy fonts. Also, using multiple fonts might confuse the software.

  • Do not include any information in the Header or Footer sections of your resume as the ATS may skip these sections, risking vital information.

  • Do not use multiple columns. Keep your resume as simple as possible to avoid confusing the ATS software. Meanwhile, avoid resume layouts with two columns.

F. Save Your Resume in a Proper File Type

Most professional companies prefer PDF or .docx as the file format. This is because it’s ATS-friendly. However, some traditional ATS may find it difficult to scan PDF files. For complete effectiveness, read through the job description and check whether the recruiting organization requires a specific format, and save your resume as per the company’s requirement.

3. Final Thoughts

As difficult as it seems, beating the applicant tracking system is dead simple if you adhere to the specific guidelines. By sticking to the basic rules, you can enhance the chances of getting your CV through the ATS to the human recruiter.

Meanwhile, remember to:

  • Use a sequential resume format

  • Eliminate any graphics

  • Incorporate job-related keywords

  • Use a standard font when typing your CV

To save time, use an ATS resume template for enhanced compatibility. Whichever layout that’s preferable to you, keep it simple and easy to read.


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