Eye-tracking studies by The Ladders indicate that the average resume screening takes as little as 7.4 seconds. With the help of their handy Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), recruiters can make their hiring decisions even quicker.
However technologically advanced an ATS may be, there’s still room for error. The culprits are typically bad formatting or unreadable designs, which all tracking systems have trouble understanding.
As a result, your system may discard fantastic resumes and select substandard ones. (No matter how dutifully an applicant follows CV best practices.)
Save yourself a headache; use ATS-friendly resumes instead. They’re designed to help your system sort resumes faster and more accurately. And you don’t have to take hours to reformat your resumes: just paste them into a reformatting system like Allsorter, and you can whittle down your to-do list.
With all that in mind, we’re sharing our tried & true ATS resume template best practices so that you can ace the next project.
How to Create an ATS-Friendly Resume Template
Choose Acceptable Formats
Depending on the candidate, they may use a skills-based resume, a chronological resume, or a mix of both. But when it comes to ATS-friendliness, chronological resumes take the crown thanks to their ordered sections.
They make scanning a breeze for your tracking system!
As for file formats, verify the file formats supported by your ATS before uploading a CV. Since several tools are known for rejecting the PDF format, see that your CVs can be readily converted to other files, like.docx or .doc.
Use the Right Keywords Across Each CV to Create an Excellent ATS Resume Template
Since ATS systems tend to pick out job-specific keywords during screening, CVs that don’t feature those keywords could be rejected despite skills and experience.
Sadly, that could also mean some candidates list their best professional traits to no avail.
Make sure your resume template doesn’t include too many keywords. With some tools, you can fine-tune the keyword density to discount the candidates who try to outsmart the system by keyword-stuffing your resumes.
Prioritise Simple, Easy-to-Read Layouts
Features like columns, frilly fonts, and visuals should be avoided in your resume layout. Not only are they unscannable, but they draw attention away from what matters: relevant text descriptions.
They may look dull, but simple layouts and fonts are your best friends.
Choose layouts that follow F or E-shaped reading patterns, and hold back from cramming information onto the page. Make job titles and subheadings bigger and bolder than your body text.
Also, use bullets to make succinct descriptions pop out. This will add plenty of white space to your ATS resume template and increase its readability.
What NOT to Put on Your ATS-Friendly Resume Template
Header and Footer Elements
According to Indeed, most tracking systems have a hard time understanding elements located within headers and footers. Ironically, that’s where most candidates love to drop their contact information.
If an ATS is unable to recognise that essential data, it might get lost in the process. That’s essentially attributing top skills to a blank face.
Avoid this by placing the contact information (such as name, email address, and mobile number) a little further down in your ATS resume instead of in the header or the footer.
Graphs, Charts, and Tables
It’s not uncommon for candidates to summarise their skills by placing them inside images, tables, charts, and graphs. But, you guessed it: as cool as they may look, tracking systems get confused with graphic-predominant resumes.
Make your ATS resume templates as text-focused as possible. Just like web crawlers can’t extract information from images, ATS systems frown upon any media.
The resume on the right looks better – but ATS prefers the one on the left
Avoid Long Sentences and Paragraphs in Your ATS Resume Template
It’s natural for candidates with multiple skills to want to show them off. Wordy paragraphs are likely to follow, and that’s a red flag for parsing technologies.
Lengthy sentences may create a cluttered look and bury skills that should be highlighted.
Plus, long-winded descriptions will dilute the message. Rather than trying to say everything, pack a punch with summary statements. Like this one example from an IT Operations Manager:
“Ensured network systems backups that are compliant with industry regulations and company procedures.”
It’s short – yet it’s pointed, scannable, and memorable. Let’s be honest: no one will read huge paragraphs when the clock is ticking. At least not mindfully.
Don’t Forget Your Extra Sections
Clients don’t always request extra information, but it comes in handy. Make sure you share it with your candidates through your ATS resume template. For example, consider asking for information such as:
- Extra-curricular activities
Then, make sure your ATS scans for these keywords and filled sections.
Different Recruitment Agencies Have Different Systems
While candidates are always on the lookout for ways to trick the ATS (and employers often don’t know what they’re looking for), it’s up to us recruiters to play it wisely.
Make sure you adjust your agency’s recruitment settings to focus on what truly matters: qualifications. However, proper resume formatting goes a long way towards ensuring your client sees the candidate in the right light.
You can tweak your ATS, but you don’t have to do the heavy lifting with resume reformatting. That’s what Allsorter is here for.
At the end of the day, your job is to create ATS resume templates for both smart systems and smart humans.
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