Each day, millions of resumes are uploaded to job boards and company websites in hopes of that illusive "hit". Research has shown that the success of this method of applying for jobs is disappointingly low, somewhere between 5 and 15%. In other words, for every 100 job seekers that use this method, only about 5 to 15 land a job. There are a multitude of reasons that this method of job search is low, one of the most common being the format of the resume used. Most companies and job boards use recruiting software often referred to as an applicant tracking system or ATS. These systems are very picky and will "choke" on various word processing options that you can use when developing your resume. If this happens, your resume may end up floating in cyberspace, never to be seen by human eyes again. The solution? Create your resume in ASCII (plain text format). Doing this will substantially increase the chances that your resume will translate correctly when uploading it online. If you opt to stay with your Word resume, then follow these five keys before uploading it:
- Avoid using Word's convenient templates. These templates are inherently poor in design and contain many of the features that are undesirable from an ATS standpoint.
- Do not use fields. Fields are used as placeholders for data that might change in a document. You can manually insert fields to automate aspects of your document, such as merging data from a data source or performing calculations. Data in fields is difficult for the ATS to decipher.
- Convert data in columns or tables to text that is formatted with tab stops. Data in tables and columns do not translate correctly when uploading your resume so avoid them at all costs. Tab stops can be used to display data the same as it displays in columns or tables.
- Do not include graphics. There is a lot of data behind that logo or that chart that looks so nice in your Word resume. No matter how nice the graphic is, it is for human consumption (so to speak) and the ATS will most certainly choke on it.
- Do not place any text in the resume's header or footer sections. Most times, text in this area gets pushed to the bottom of the resume and may not be recognized by the ATS or worse, may be mistaken for some other information that can corrupt your resume.
To make certain that your resume will be uploaded correctly to an online job board or to a company's website, convert it to an ASCII (plain text) file. If you plan to use your Word resume, then just make sure you use caution by adhering to the five keys above.