The job market is competitive, and if you are serious about landing a new opportunity, you cannot afford any mistakes. You probably have invested hours tweaking your resume to make it perfect. After all, the best candidates understand that you have to tailor your resume for each position. So, if you want to beat the ATS and get your resume on the hiring manager’s desk, here are four simple resume formatting mistakes to avoid.
Putting your contact details in the header of a document
One of the biggest resume formatting mistakes you can make is not displaying your contact details correctly. Many job seekers make the fatal error of putting their name and contact details in the document’s header. When you put anything in the header of a Word document, it grays out the text and makes it difficult to read. Also, when viewing the resume as an attachment preview in Outlook, the header gets cut off. So, if you are putting your contact information in the header, it is not readily visible for hiring managers. Your name, phone number, and email must be prevalent right off the bat if you want to stand a chance in this market.
Not using a simple format
Another resume formatting mistake that is too common is messy formatting. Complicated formatting can be anything from inconsistent uses of fonts and sizes, colors of your text, and even utilizing different types of bullet points. Although not earth-shattering, these mistakes can draw unnecessary attention away from all of your skill sets and accomplishments.
When you are formatting your resume, it’s best to keep it simple. Use legible fonts, black text, and basic bullet points. Additionally, don’t try to incorporate tables or other weird formatting because an Application Tracking Systems (ATS) may not be able to process it. ATS scans your resume to identify certain skill sets, accomplishments, and keywords hiring managers look for in a candidates’ resume. However, complicated formatting can be challenging for these systems to process. If an ATS cannot read your resume, it’s almost a guarantee it won’t end up in the hiring manager’s hands.
Utilizing visual resume templates
There are thousands of different resume templates available to download for free. Some of them are excellent foundations for a great resume. Others may look visually appealing but are an ATS’s worst nightmare. For example, you can open up a new Word document and quickly browse dozens of free resume templates. Some of them look visually appealing with placeholders for your headshot, graphs for your skills, and other creative designs. However, these designs are too challenging for an ATS to process.
You can be the most qualified candidate with a show-stopping resume, but if an ATS cannot analyze it, it will, unfortunately, get filtered out. Even if these templates look fantastic and you think they will help you stand out, you have to keep an ATS in mind at all times. Don’t be one of the 75% of resumes that a human never reads.
Not using an appropriate file type
One of the simplest resume mistakes you must avoid is submitting the document in an unopenable file type. As a staffing firm, we see this every single day. A candidate submits a resume as an unknown file type or even as an image file. Not only are some of these file types challenging to open, they sometimes alter the formatting and clarity of resumes. The best thing you can do is submit your resume as a PDF. PDFs are a universal file type that almost everyone can easily open, regardless of any computer. Plus, they make it more challenging for someone to accidentally change them and are less likely to carry a virus. You are welcome to make your resume on the program of your choosing, but save it as a PDF to ensure the hiring manager can open it.
Do you need more resume advice?
These are four resume formatting mistakes you can easily avoid to improve your chances of making it to the next level of the hiring process. If you are looking for more advice, we have dozens of free resume resources for you! Take a look at some of these best practices and take your job search to the next level.