Best resume format for ATS (with resume template) – 2023 update

Check out our article on best resume format for ATS reviews.

Updated in 2023

Let’s face it: recruiters are busy. Some job openings at large tech companies like Google and Facebook have thousands of people apply. Therefore, recruiters just do not have time to go through everything.

According to Jobscan’s research, over 98% of Fortune 500 companies and a growing number of small-to-medium sized businesses use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to scan resumes for keywords. They filter out those that do not match.

These are the top systems and some companies that use them:

  • Taleo – used by Nike, Deloitte, Johnson & Johnson, and more
  • Jobvite – used by Logitech, Spotify, Zillow
  • iCIMS – used by Amazon, Uber, Southwest, and more
  • Lever – used by Shopify, Indiegogo, Lyft
  • Greenhouse – used by Pinterest, Airbnb, WeWork, and more

If you are currently applying to jobs, you will likely run into applicant tracking systems. This is especially the case if you are looking at big tech companies. Therefore, if you know the best resume formats for ATS, you will be able to pass through the system more easily. Then, your application will be seen by a human recruiter, which should be better for your job search.

Your resume must be formatted a specific way for an ATS to successfully parse the information.

  1. It cannot understand funky bullets or characters, so it’s important to use standard closed circle bullets on your resume.
  2. Make sure you have a maximum of 2 columns and you never use white or light-colored text.
  3. If you include links to your portfolio, GitHub, and/or additional websites you’ve worked on (and you definitely should!), ensure that they are clickable. This helps the system pick them up. To do this, make sure you are saving your pdf as an “online” version rather than a “print” version.

Once you have formatting that is readable by both machine and human, it is time to move onto the more important piece of your resume: the content. Both the ATS and recruiter are looking for specific elements. These have been defined by the hiring manager who posted the job. These are often:

  • The job title itself
  • Keywords from the description
  • Skills that will be necessary for success in the role

The best way to ensure that your resume makes it past the system is to exactly match your keywords with those in the job description. These systems are not as sophisticated as you might think. Therefore, they often do not understand synonyms or similar terminology. Similarly, if a recruiter is skimming hundreds of resumes, they are likely looking for exact matches the same way.

Matching keywords

Matching means that if the job profile says, “MS Office” and your resume says, “Microsoft Office”, the connection will not be made. Update your resume for each job so that it matches exactly. Including a Skills section in your resume is a good way to make sure that you can include all of the keywords that work for you in one place.

Similarly, if you can change your past job titles to match the position you are applying for, it is more likely that your application will make it through. Recruiters are almost always searching for the name of the position. So, if you are applying for a job called, “Systems software engineer” and in the past, you worked as a “Software engineer, Systems”, make sure you update the title so it matches as closely as possible.

Ranking resumes

Some systems automatically rank the resumes that come in based on the above keywords. This ranking is then taken into account in the often-as-short-as 6 seconds that they spend looking at resumes for the first pass. In this first glance review, recruiters are looking to see if your past experience matches the job title and for keywords that will guarantee success. Luckily, the optimization you have done for the ATS should work for this first review, as well.

We created an editable resume template that you can use to ensure you make it past the ATS and onto the next level.

Once you have optimized your resume to pass through the ATS and quick first recruiter review, you can actually show your skills to a real recruiter on a phone screen or in a technical round.

Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With these 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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