Each week, TopResume's career advice expert, Amanda Augustine, answers user questions like the one below from Quora and the Ask Amanda form. A certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), Amanda has been helping professionals improve their careers for over 10 years. Have a question for Amanda? Submit it here.
Q: How can I tell if I have an ATS-friendly resume?
“How can I test my resume for ATS readability?” — Quora user
Before you determine if your resume would pass the test for its “ATS readability,” first make sure you're applying these resume-writing best practices to your document:
Avoid placing important details like your contact information in the header or footer of your resume document.
Less is more when it comes to your resume format. Stick to a simple, clean resume design that doesn't include embedded charts, images, or unusual fonts.
Steer clear of right-hand columns. If you plan to use a resume design that incorporates columns, opt for a left-hand rail or column. Unfortunately, resumes with a right-hand rail or column do not successfully pass through the ATS.
Customize your resume with relevant keywords. Identify the important keywords found in the job listings that interest you and incorporate them throughout the resume, particularly in the “Key Skills” and “Work Experience” sections.
Save your resume as a Word document file. Unfortunately, there are still some ATS platforms that cannot convert PDF, HTML, Open Office, or Apple Pages documents and will discard resumes that are saved in such document formats.
Click on the following link for more information on how to format your resume to successfully pass the applicant tracking system.
How to test your resume against an applicant tracking system (ATS)
There are two easy ways to see if your resume is ready to be properly interpreted by an applicant tracking system.
ATS-friendly resume test 1: Save your resume in plain text
Applicant tracking systems have trouble reading embedded tables, symbols, charts, images, and other fancy design elements. In many cases, the ATS software will either skip over the information contained in those graphics or return it as a bunch of gibberish. In either case, important information will be left out of your application entry in the system and hurt your candidacy.
To determine what information may become garbled or eliminated when passed through the ATS, save a copy of your resume as plain text and then review the result. If the plain text version of your resume is missing details from your original resume, has some of its characters saved incorrectly, or looks disorganized (i.e. the heading for your work history appears in the middle of your key skills section), then your resume did not pass the ATS readability test.
ATS-friendly resume test 2: Request a free ATS scan
Professional resume-writing service TopResume offers a free ATS resume scan as part of its free resume review. In the first half of the review, TopResume provides an objective look at what your resume is doing well and where it is missing the mark from both a content and design perspective.
In the second half of the review, TopResume shows you exactly what information an ATS will pull from your resume, what information it will be unable to identify and retrieve (such as your name, contact information, most recent job title, and most recent employer), and what top skills and keywords your resume currently ranks for. If the ATS is unable to identify any of this important information or thinks you're a fit for a job that you're not, then your resume did not pass the ATS readability test.
Find out if your resume will pass that ATS test with flying colors. Request a free review from TopResume today!