Although it’s important to have a traditional version of your resume to share with recruiters, these days your resume is often first reviewed by an automated applicant tracking system (ATS). This parses the text of your resume and stores the keywords and other information for later retrieval in a search.
A resume with fancy formatting will not convert well when uploaded to an online resume database. What good is it to share your resume on these systems if they can’t parse the information correctly and recruiters can’t access it? There are steps you can take to ensure your resume uploads cleanly and converts neatly to these systems.
Use multiple file formats for different purposes –
Microsoft Word: There are a variety of document formats used for resumes, but the front runner is MS Word. It is recommended that your traditional resume be created in Word. Some recruiters will request a Word version. From Word, your document can be saved to other formats as needed.
PDF: For sharing your resume in an email, save it as a PDF file unless the recruiter specifically asks for a Word document. The PDF format will retain the structure you used in Word.
Text File: For sharing to an ATS, a text file is the safest format to ensure accurate parsing and storing. To create a text file from Word, select Plain Text (*.txt) from the Save as type options. You can also copy and paste the text of your resume into a text editor, like Notepad (PC) or TextEdit (Mac). Check the text to make sure the line breaks are where they should be before saving and sharing the text file.
Keep it simple – The simpler, the better. It’s tempting to make your resume look fancy with columns, charts, nested bullets, images, etc., because you are trying to impress a potential employer. But keep in mind that these extras don’t always translate well on different computers, and they will be stripped out in the plain text version.
Capitalize headings – Putting the headings in all capital letters will help differentiate the sections of your resume. Save caps for just the main headings (EXPERIENCE, EDUCATION, etc.) and use them sparingly so as not to clutter the resume’s readability.
Use blank lines sparingly – When a document is uploaded, blank lines are often interpreted as separation between sections. Use blank lines to separate sections and differentiate job entries, but don’t include blank lines within a single job description as it could appear disjointed when uploaded. If you held different positions within the same company, list each position as a separate job with a blank line between to differentiate.
Be consistent with dates – Include start and end dates for each job you’ve held, and be consistent with the format. Use month and year for the dates separated by a hyphen: May 2001 – Dec 2008. For your current job use “Present” for the end date: Jan 2012 – Present.
Following these tips will optimize your resume for sharing with recruiters and uploading to online automated systems. This can increase the likelihood that your resume will be readable, correctly parsed, and flagged as relevant for the positions you are seeking.
For more advice and support with your transition, join the LinkedIn group Job Networking for the Military Community to connect with fellow veterans and military-friendly recruiters.
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