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8 best resume format tips for hiring algorithms

We’re excited to include guest posts on our blog from interesting people and companies in the industry. This post on the best resume format was written by, a resume development tool built to help job seekers overcome hiring bots of the 21st century.

It’s 2020. Roads are increasingly filled with self driving cars, factories across the United States are staffed by robots, and hiring managers will soon be replaced by software.. Well, maybe not just yet.

It’s not too far from the truth, however. Today, most companies are using hiring algorithms that crawl and index your resume, acting as a search engine of sorts for hiring managers. And it makes sense why this is happening. 

Google alone receives more than 3 million job applications each year. It’s challenging enough reading through similar resumes day by day, but 3 million? There has to be a way to manage and filter through these resumes.

In comes the applicant tracking system (ATS), otherwise known as the resume-killer. It is the reason why most resumes don’t get the attention they deserve. In fact, 75% of applicants are ignored because of the ATS. This is a pretty significant ratio. It goes without saying that passing this hiring algorithm can make or break your chances of getting interviewed. 

For a company where employment is harder to achieve than getting into the most prestigious U.S. university (Google and Harvard, respectively), doing right by this system is a complete necessity. At the end of the day, everyone deserves a fair shot at having their resume reviewed by human hiring managers.

And we’re going to help you get there – take it from a guy that received interviews from Google, Goldman, and Dropbox with a 2.2 GPA.

Applicant tracking systems

Here’s a quick rundown of applicant tracking systems. Brace yourself as it’s going to get a little wordy.

There are two major components to passing the ATS – your resume format and the keywords in your resume.

Good formatting ensures that no information will get lost when the ATS parses your resume. The keywords in your resume determine the quality of your experiences.

So here’s what the hiring process looks like. Once a resume is indexed, an HR manager will type the position they are looking for into the “search bar”. Then, the ATS spits out all of the applicants/resumes that are relevant to the “search term”. More often than not, HR managers will sort this list by ranking for relevance. The quality of your keywords (and in turn your experiences) determines whether you come up first or last.

Now, the keywords are up to the experiences of the job applicant. It depends on your real-life work history. The resume format, however, is something that everyone can universally adopt for their resume. 

It would simply be a shame if you had the right quality of keywords and experiences, but don’t get the recognition you deserve due to poor resume formatting. 

And according to TopResume, this happens quite often. In a sample size of 1000 resumes, roughly 50% were immediately rejected because of improper formatting. But this isn’t going to happen to you – we’ll make sure of that. 

Here is a list of ways you can format your resume to pass the ATS 100% of the time:
  • Use conventional sectional headings. Uncommon headings may confuse the ATS. Here are the resume headings we include in our resumes:
    • Experience
    • Projects
    • Education
    • Coursework
    • Involvement
    • Skills
  • Stay away from lavish templates. Though these may look great to the human eye, it actually comes out as a garbled mess when read by an ATS, losing information as a result. 
  • Use simple bullet points in your resume – yes, even arrows or other similar “fancy” bullet points can confuse the scanner.
  • Sans serif is preferable over serif fonts. Don’t know the difference? It’s easy to determine: Sans serif fonts don’t have the little feet.
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  • Spelling errors should be avoided at all costs no matter what, but at least a human would know what you were trying to say. The ATS, on the other hand, lacks a bit of common sense. A sentence with spelling errors will lose meaning during “translation”.
  • Save your resume as a PDF file. It will guarantee that the ATS can parse it correctly. If you’re going to use a resume template, make sure it is ATS approved. Lucky for you, we have just the collection. Browse our ATS resume templates so you can avoid ATS incompatibility issues. 

So there you have it.. you now know how applicant tracking systems work. You also know how to not be dead last on the results page – which is actually a feat in itself.

Now go out, stack those experiences, and make the best resume that a human hiring manager has ever seen. has free software that auto-formats resumes so applicants can apply to jobs without worrying about applicant tracking systems. Start building smarter resumes today.

About Pathrise

Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With our tips and guidance, we’ve seen 3x as many application responses from our fellows in the program.

If you want to work with any of our mentors 1-on-1 to get help with your resume or with any other aspect of the job search, become a Pathrise fellow.

Apply today

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Derrick Mar

Before tackling the challenge of building the technical infrastructure of Pathrise as the CEO, Derrick was a software engineer at Facebook, where he was one of the founding engineers of the team responsible for the first ever 3D Facebook posts. Before that, Derrick explored the intersection of AI and education, founding AI Grading, a platform that optimizes the grading and analysis of student practice exams in the test prep industry, and also working as one of the earliest software engineers at Gradescope.

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