A study by Harvard Business School revealed that more than 90% of employers use recruitment software such as applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen candidates and rank them. Even if you’re the most qualified for the job, your chances of getting interviews are slim if:
- You don’t match the criteria set in the ATS.
- The ATS cannot correctly parse your resume.
To make sure the ATS doesn’t reject your application, you need to convert your resume to an ATS-friendly format.
In this guide, we will help you optimize your resume, be visible to recruiters, and increase your chances of getting interviews.
You can also quickly scan your resume through our free resume converter to see if it’s optimized for the ATS.
Why is having an ATS-friendly resume format important?
An ATS-friendly format makes it easy for the ATS to read and parse your resume accurately.
This way, your resume has a solid chance of being seen by a recruiter or hiring manager, which can lead to a job interview.
How to make sure the ATS can read your resume
Companies use ATS to simplify their hiring process and sort through resumes quickly and efficiently.
When you submit your resume or cover letter, it goes through the ATS. The ATS then parses your resume, converts it into a format that can easily be searched and filtered, and stores your information in a database.
When looking for a potential hire, recruiters search for candidates through the ATS using keywords and other criteria.
The ATS will then scan the database and show the top candidates that match the requirements.
But here’s the thing.
Your resume will be passed over by the ATS if:
- It doesn’t have the keywords the recruiter searches for.
- It is not formatted in a way that’s compatible with the ATS.
You can avoid getting lost in the ATS by creating an ATS resume or converting your resume to an ATS-friendly format.
How to convert your resume to ATS-friendly format
1. Don’t use tables or columns
While it’s true that tables and columns can improve your resume’s readability for human readers, unfortunately, they still cause frequent parsing errors in the ATS.
Here is an example of a resume with a table separating the content into two columns.
You can see that the experience section is on the left while the skills, certifications, and education sections are on the right. Doing this makes the layout of the resume look organized.
However, this is what the resume looks like when parsed by Lever, a popular ATS.
You will notice that Lever ATS incorrectly parsed the resume and merged the work experience section with the skills and abilities section. The ATS also missed out on some lines containing important information.
This proves that the ATS cannot read tables or columns. So you should not include them in your resume.
Find out more in this guide: What Happens to Resume Tables and Columns in an ATS? See For Yourself
2. Use a screen-friendly, traditional font
For readability, it’s best to use a traditional serif or sans serif font. Some ATS will automatically change unfamiliar fonts, which can alter the design of your resume.
Here are 10 fonts you can use:
- Times New Roman
Font size doesn’t affect your resume’s ATS readability, but we suggest using a 10 or 12-point font. This makes your resume look more professional and readable especially when it gets in the hands of a recruiter.
Check out our list of the best fonts you can use: The Best Fonts for Your Resume in 2023
3. Don’t use headers or footers
A header is the top section of a word document while a footer is the bottom section.
Unfortunately, not all ATS can accurately read information placed in these sections. So you should not include headers or footers in your resume to avoid parsing errors.
4. Use standard resume section headings
Creative section headers may confuse applicant tracking systems, causing them to organize information incorrectly.
Stick with standard headings that the ATS can identify easily.
For example, use:
- “Work Experience” and not “Where I’ve Been”
- “Accomplishments” and not “What I’m Most Proud Of”
- “Career Objective” and not “Life Philosophy”
5. Avoid graphics
Although it’s tempting to add your profile photo or slap some fancy graphics on your resume, these might cause parsing errors in the ATS.
6. Use the right file format
Save your file as a .docx (Microsoft word) or .pdf. These formats work best with most of the ATS.
You can check our full guide here: Resume PDF vs Word
7. Format your date correctly
Most ATS accurately parse dates in the following formats:
- MM/YYYY (06/2023)
- Month YYYY (June 2023)
Once you choose a date format, you should stick with it consistently throughout your resume.
8. Use keywords and phrases from the job posting and match the criteria
Since recruiters use keywords and phrases as criteria to search for candidates through the ATS, you need to include relevant keywords in your resume.
These keywords are usually the job title or key hard and soft skills. These are found in the job description.
If you need help in identifying which keywords to include, you can use Jobscan’s resume scanner. It scans your resume and matches it with the job description.
After scanning, Jobscan generates a report with a list of job-specific keywords you should add in your resume to optimize it for the ATS. The tool also lists predicted skills, which are keywords not in the job description but are in other similar job postings. Including these predicted skills will increase your relevance.
Here’s what a portion of the keywords section of a resume scanner report looks like:
The numbers on the right show how many times a specific keyword is mentioned in the resume and job description. Your goal is to match these two numbers.
You will also notice that hard skills are considered high score impact and we recommend that you prioritize these in your resume.
In this example, the job seeker failed to include several hard skills in the job description. If a recruiter searches for a candidate with knowledge on Android and types “android” as part of the criteria, this resume will not appear in the search results.
9. Choose the right ATS-friendly resume format
If a skills section doesn’t make sense for your particular industry or profession, a chronological format will work just fine, too.
Pro-tip: Avoid using a functional resume format. The functional resume format focuses on your skills and accomplishments. However, it often leaves out important work history information that recruiters and ATS need to build complete candidate profiles.
10. Use a resume converter
To make sure you don’t commit any ATS formatting mistakes, try using a resume converter. Not only are resume converters easy to use, they also save you time.
What is a resume converter?
A resume converter is a tool you can use to change your resume into a format that the applicant tracking system (ATS) can parse and interpret correctly.
Get the most out of Jobscan’s free resume converter tool
Jobscan’s converter tool uses the latest AI technology to scan your resume and match it with the particular job you are applying for.
Jobscan then gives you a comprehensive report on formatting edits you need to make, relevant keywords you need to include, and other necessary changes you need to do. This way, your resume will be visible in ATS searches and will be noticed by recruiters.
Additionally, Jobscan has an ATS Tip feature which identifies the specific ATS the company you are applying to is using. It gives you expert tips on how to optimize your resume for that particular ATS.
Create a great resume through Jobscan’s resume converter in 4 simple steps:
Step 1. Upload a copy of your resume.
Step 2. Upload a copy of the job description.
Step 3. Wait for the results
Step 4. Convert your resume by following Jobscan’s recommendations.
Make your resume stand out and get noticed
Upload your resume to see what’s missing and get a free match rate.
Frequently asked questions
What is the importance of using a resume converter?
Using a resume converter ensures that your resume is compatible with applicant tracking systems. Further, a resume converter:
- Saves you time by removing manual format changes.
- Makes sure your resume is free from errors that might occur when manually editing your resume.
- Increases your chances of getting job interviews and landing your dream job.
- Uses advanced features for ATS formatting and keyword optimization.
How can you convert your resume?
You can convert your resume by:
- Manually editing your resume using expert ATS formatting tips.
- Using an ATS-friendly resume builder and creating your resume from scratch.
- Using a free resume converter like Jobscan’s.
What should you look for when choosing a resume converter tool?
When choosing which resume converter to use, look for a tool that is:
- Easy to use.
- Efficient in converting your resume to an ATS-friendly format.
- Packed with advanced features updated with the latest ATS technology.
Expert tip: Use Jobscan’s free resume converter tool since it uses the latest AI technology.
Is there a free resume builder?
There are many free resume builders out there that job seekers like you can use. You can try Jobscan’s free resume builder to create a great ATS resume that also impresses the recruiter.
How do you convert your CV to ATS format?
To convert your curriculum vitae (CV) to ATS format, all you have to do is follow the formatting instructions found in this guide and tweak your CV accordingly. You can also try an online resume converter.
How can you edit your resume for free?
To edit your resume for free, you can do the following:
- Read about resume formatting tips and strategies and manually edit your resume.
- Look for a free resume maker and create a professional resume with that.
- Use a resume converter.
What resume format is best for applicant tracking systems?
The best resume format for applicant tracking systems is the hybrid resume format.
You can find out more about resume formats, resume templates you can download, and resume examples in Jobscan’s learning center.
Want to save time and make sure you don’t miss out on what needs to be in your resume? Optimize your resume through our resume scanner today and take your job application to the next level!
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