ATS-Friendly Résumés

In today’s job market, 90% of Fortune 500 companies use electronic systems, known as applicant tracking systems (ATS) to review and screen résumés. 

Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)

ATS software comes under many brand names (like Taleo and Brass Ring) and is used by companies to electronically track job candidates, review résumés and begin their selection process. Generally, when you are applying online and submitting your résumé electronically it is going through an applicant tracking system. And the software will do the initial screening, not a person. That is why a clean and neat résumé is so important. 

In addition, be clear about your skills. The system will be using a keyword type of search to review your résumé for specific qualifications. For instance, if an employer is looking for Microsoft Excel and you only use the words Microsoft Office, then your résumé would not be included if they do a keyword search on Excel.

Electronic Résumé Tips

Document Type

  • Use a PDF. Other file types (doc or docx, HTML, Open Office) may not be recognized.
  • Exclude images of any kind, including photos of yourself, icons and graphics of certifications.
  • Test your PDF document by copying the text of the PDF into a Word doc to see if all your content and formatting pastes correctly. If it does not, your document is not “ATS-Friendly”, or may even be corrupted. PDFs can get corrupted, so save your Word version résumé to a PDF every so often.
  • Always opt for uploading your document into an application if that is an option (rather than copying and pasting it) into the employer’s system.


  • Make sure your name and contact information is first, at the top of the page and never in a header
  • Do not use any special characters or any extra spacing between letters
  • Do not include your title, certification or degree with your name. For example, if you are a CPA then list that after your summary. Do not include it with your name because an ATS will read CPA as your last name
  • You can link to your LinkedIn or personal website, but you must include the beginning of the address (http:// or www.). Do not just type the word LinkedIn or Github

Date Format

  • The following date formats are acceptable:
    • June 2022
    • Jun. 2022
    • 06/2022
  • Use the same format throughout the whole document

Body of Document - Format


  • Limit your résumé to one page
  • Keep it clear and easy to read; include plenty of white space
  • Use generic font and font size (Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman, 10-14 pt.)
  • Use one font style throughout the résumé

Do Not

  • No headers, footers, or page numbers
  • No pictures, graphics or templates in body
  • Avoid differentiators (colors, special formatting)
  • Avoid using tables, it can become jumbled

Body of Document - Content


  • Stick to standard headings (Education, Experience, Skills, Activities, Leadership, etc.)
  • When writing your experience and listing the jobs you have held, use the following order: Your position, date worked, company name, then job description or skills
  • Use bulleted statements that highlight quantitative accomplishments and leadership skills
  • Use standard symbols for bullets, not fancy ones
  • Type the full company name out and use proper abbreviation (Inc. or Co.)
  • Tailor each résumé to that specific job posting
  • Use key phrases and keywords that were in the job description
  • Include buzzwords, industry keywords and company jargon
  • List computer software, technical skills, languages, etc. that are relevant to the position
  • Research the company and incorporate their values into your résumé and cover letter
  • Be sure there are absolutely no spelling errors

Do Not

  • Do not include the company’s full address, only use the city and state
  • Do not abbreviate any titles you have held (ex. Use Manager not Mgr.)
  • Do not include irrelevant information or experiences
  • Do not state everything you ever accomplished, leave out hobbies and classes
  • Do not include an objective unless extremely specific and compelling
  • Do not include any references unless they are requested specifically

Automatic Responses

Once you have completed your online application or submitted your résumé electronically, you should receive a quick and automatic response indicating your application was received.

Check your junk mail as an automatic emails from the Applicant Tracking System might go there.