There is nothing more frustrating than curating what you believe to be the ideal resume for your dream job, submitting it, then disappearing into what feels like a black hole, never to be seen again. In many cases, the culprit might very well be formatting mistakes, which leaves the ATS software confused. So, today, we want to discuss resume formatting and what you should avoid. 

When creating resumes, people often get caught up in form over function. However, the successful resume relies much more on the content rather than how it appears. ATS software responds better to resumes that are formatted in a simple style. The Medium suggests “[using] a simple, standard resume format. Avoid unique layouts, tables, columns, headers, and footers which may confuse ATS parsers.”  

Since ATS software doesn’t recognize non-text elements, the text is hidden and will not be scored in your overall rating, which can significantly impact the likelihood of your resume scoring high enough to make it to the next level.   

In this example from Jobscan, you can see exactly how using columns can cause the ATS to completely miss vital parts of the resume: “The ATS recognized the work experience section but ignored everything else. There’s no skills section, about section, contact information, or links to work samples.” To ensure all your resume is being read, avoid using fancy formatting choices that hinder the chances of your resume making it through the software.  

“ATS gets tripped up by any images, photos, logos, graphics, charts or tables that you might have included within the document. Even unusual fonts or fancy stylized bullet points, like an arrow, can be a problem.”

CNBC Make It 

While it is tempting to vamp up your resume with fancy graphics and unique font choices, your resume is not the time to test out new tactics! Loading graphics into a resume can become visually distracting and can in many cases be rejected on sight alone. Keep in mind for positions such as a graphic designer, you want to show off your portfolio on a website, for example, instead of cluttering your resume with your skills. 

The same goes for font choice. If a font is difficult to read, not only do you run the risk of turning off the hiring manager immediately, but some are also difficult for ATS software to process. Consider classic ones such as: Times New Roman, Georgia, Helvetica, Arial, Calibri, and Cambria.  

Another thing to consider, which might not seem significant, is the file type you choose to save your resume. In an article from The Muse, it is recommended that, “While PDFs are best at keeping your format intact overall, the .docx format is the most accurately parsed by ATS programs.” Therefore, unless stated otherwise in the job posting description, save your resume as a .docx file to help get past the ATS.  

If you are still unsure of what to avoid when it comes to formatting your resume, this helpful infographic is a great resource to refer to.  

The team at Resumes with Results has extensive experience working with ATS software, and we will ensure to craft a resume that will appeal to both the software and the human eye. We understand how challenging it is to understand and navigate the complexities of resume writing, which is why we are here to help. Contact our team today and let us guide you through the process!