6 Ways to Prevent Your Resume From Getting Tossed

April 8, 2015



We know you. You’re one of the thousands of awesome job candidates who apply to multiple jobs a week and never hear anything back from the recruiter. No email. No phone call. Nothing but confirmation that your resume has been received and then radio silence. You’ve got the skills. You’ve mastered every formula in excel and you can sling code with your eyes closed. Let’s face it. You’re a hot commodity in your industry and any company should be welcoming you with open arms.

But why aren’t they?

The truth of the matter is your resume probably isn’t getting read because it’s not making it through the applicant tracking system (ATS)—that tedious and time consuming system you use each time you apply to a job online. A modern ATS is smart enough to read your resume and map your skills so that the recruiter has an electronic view of your employment experience and skill sets. However, if your resume doesn’t pass through the system’s parsing guidelines, it gets tossed out.

But fear not! Here are 6 things you should do to get your resume through the system and directly in front of the recruiter:

1. Say “sayonara!” to all graphics, borders and symbols.

Yes! All of these things adds a visually pleasing element to your resume. But, it’s counterproductive to add them when it’s also the main reason recruiters aren’t seeing it in the first place. In fact, fancy designs actually translate into number codes once your resume goes through the parsing system which also causes unsightly clutter.

2. Steer clear of headers and footers.

Headers and footers are like the blind spots around your vehicle—those areas you can’t directly see in normal circumstances without adjusting the side view mirrors. Unfortunately, there are no side mirrors to adjust when recruiters review your resume in the applicant tracking system and any content you put in the header and footer simply won’t be seen.

3. Save the fancy fonts for “thank you” notes.

You know the follow-up notes you send out after you nail the interview and you’re feeling confident the recruiter was impressed? Adding elaborate typeface on your resume on the other hand can confuse the applicant tracking system algorithm. When in doubt, stick to Times New Roman or Arial and you’re good to go.

4. Nix the tables.

Tables are always a great way to organize content but when it comes to your resume, it’s best to leave it out as it’s just another element that causes a lot of confusion within the applicant tracking system. Remember, the less confused the system is, the higher your chances of having a perfectly parsed resume, nailing the interview and landing that dream job.

5. Don’t let the outsiders in.

We’re talking about those tempting resume templates in Microsoft Word and various outside sources. Although they are visually attractive, the applicant tracking systems only read text and anything else containing graphic elements really gets in the way and prevents your resume from making it to the recruiter.

6. Stand tall, when appropriate.

Capitalization matters and it’s crucial to use it correctly. Section headers are great to format in all caps. Job titles and your employer’s name should stay in down style (only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized).


These tips are just scratching the surface. Download our FREE Resume Guide to learn how to craft the perfect resume and increase your chances of landing your dream job!

What other resume tips do you have for the job seekers out there? Comment below to share your knowledge! We’d love to hear from you.


VP of Marketing at Digital Astronauts

Ronny Cheng is one of the Co-Founder’s of Digital Astronauts and has helped drive lead generation in the software industry for organizations of all sizes — from start-ups to Fortune 500’s. He helped build one of the first online software review websites, specializing in CRM, ERP, and HR software. He’s a nationally published author with extensive experience working with the HR/Recruiting industries largest brands. In his spare time, you can catch him on Instagram doing his best food blogger impersonation.


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