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How to Check If You Have an ATS-Friendly Resume

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

Ensure that you stick to these resume-writing guidelines for your resume before seeing whether it would meet the criteria for Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) readability.

  1. Avoid adding designations after your name. They are not deciphered by the ATS. It is a good idea to place these under your name, in the summary, or body of the resume. Be sure to spell them out as well as use the acronyms so they are picked up as keywords (e.g., MBA or M.S. (for Master of Science), PMP (for Project Manager Professional), or LCSW (for Licensed Clinical Social Worker).

  2. Do not put anything in the header or footer of your resume to keep it ATS-friendly, especially contact information. The ATS cannot read any content in the header or footer.

  3. Do not use infographic resumes. Applicant Tracking Software cannot read a resume design that includes fancy designs, graphics, tables, charts, symbols, images, text boxes, columns, or creative fonts. ATS-compliant fonts are Times New Roman, Tahoma, Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, Calibri, Georgia, Cambria, Gill Sans, and Garamond.

  4. Be sure your resume has relevant keywords to be picked up by the ATS. It is important that keywords are weaved into your resume, especially in the "Core Competencies" or "Key Skills" sections.

  5. Save your resume as a Word document. Some Applicant Tracking Systems can read PDF documents but you'll be safe with a Word document. The ATS cannot read and convert resumes in other file formats such as HTML, Open Office, or Apple Pages.

How to test your resume for applicant tracking system (ATS) compliance

ATS-friendly resume

To see if your resume will be properly read and converted by an applicant tracking system, save the resume in plain text format to see how the ATS will parse your resume. If your resume has any unreadable ATS elements like fancy designs, graphics, tables, charts, symbols, images, text boxes, columns, etc., you'll be able to tell. If the ATS is unable to read any part of your resume, it will convert it to gibberish.

Saving a copy of your resume in plain text will let you see what could be eliminated, misplaced, or garbled by the ATS scans. If you see this, then it is a fail as far as the ATS is concerned.

Note: Do not submit a resume in plain text format. This is just to test to make sure your resume format will pass through the Applicant Tracking System.

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