8 Suggestions for Formatting your Resume to get by the ATS Systems

Over the next couple of posts, we’re going to provide you 8 suggestions for formatting your resume to get past the ATS systems, and have your resume reviewed by a human.

This is part 1 of a 2-part series.

Posted by: Don Oehlert
Managing Partner/Head Coach


At https://eCareerCoaching.com, we believe there are 8 suggestions for formatting your resume to get past the ATS Systems. If you do get by those systems, you have a better chance of getting your resume reviewed by a human.

Remember this factoid – popular companies receive between 500 and 5,000 resumes per posted position. Now, we all know there are people out there that will apply for any open position in hopes that they may be seen as appropriate for other roles inside the company.

This will not happen.

But hey – desperate people do desperate things.

In fact, many HR folks see this as application-SPAM and they’ll delete you from their systems entirely.

This has happened.

The 8 Suggestions for resume formatting

We’ll start by listing all 8 suggestions:

  1. The header – what info should you include and even what FONTS you should use
  2. What position title you’re applying for
  3. Customization
  4. Result statements/”Wow is me!” paragraphs
  5. Keywords
  6. Body content layout suggestions
  7. Length of resume content – and proofread (you’ll see how these correlate in the next post)
  8. Footer

Suggestion 1 – The Header

Why should you worry about the header? Well, let me show you what I mean.

But before I do that, you should know that you should use a modern font like Calibri or Arial. Fonts like Times New Roman and Helvetica scream out “I’m older, and I haven’t updated my resume format in years!” Yes, silly as it may sound, the right font matters.

No one wants that – least of all those that may be fighting perceived ageism.

This graphic shows how the header area of a resume should look. Use a modern font.
Use a modern font – Times New Roman is no longer “new…”

Now take a closer look at the graphics above and below – you’ll notice I spell out that this is Tim Smith’s resume right up front (there’s not really a resume for a guy named “Tim Smith” – that’s just an avatar’s name for demo purposes).

Why am I getting all “Captain Obvious” on you?

To put it in straightforward terms, think about your own desk when you were working. On particularly busy days, you had papers and file folders spread out all over the place. In fact on many days you were working on several projects all at once.

Lot’s of distractions laying about.

Anything that didn’t relate to the current project didn’t have a place in your field of vision right at that moment. Let’s say you saw a piece of paper and you had no idea what it was. You may have simply tossed it into the “round file.”

No one wants that to happen, either.

Taking it one step further, put your name at the very top, in boldface, and format it in a larger font.

You Must Be found to Get Hired.

This graphic talks about what font size you should use for your name, and the fact that your name is boldfaced, so easier to find. Immediately below your name, you want to list all the professionally-focused on-line methods for contacting you.
Your name and the word “Resumé” should be bigger and emboldened so to stand out.

If you’ve been following us for any length of time, you know we pound on the two drums of “stand out (be unique),” and be consistent in your brand presentation. One way to be consistent in your brand presentation is to follow our 8 suggestions for formatting your resume.

Part of standing out and being consistent is making sure the hiring authority and HR can contact you in any manner they see fit. You want to make sure your contact methods show professionalism and some bit of your character, but not too much personal information. Also, be careful about your actual email address. “PartyDude73@aol.com” doesn’t show you in your best light, ya know?

I can Almost guarantee you that if you are found in the ATS..

…and they feel like they want to call you to be screened, they will look at your LinkedIn profile right away. They will also look through your other social media presences – before they even contact you.

If you use twitter regularly, make sure to include your twitter handle as well in your header. If and wehn you do that, make sure that your tweets are professional in tone. You don’t want them to rule you out due to some “out of bounds” tweet you made when you were still in college, or when you were fighting with someone over politics.


On one hand, you want them to get to know you a bit on the personal side as well as the professional side (culture fit is a huge part of employment). On the other hand, you don’t want to be embarrassed by a photo of you drinking directly out of a keg (unless you’re applying to work for a brewery!).

48% of the time

HR Professionals have reported that, they have rejected a candidate based on something unprofessional they’ve found online.

This rejection will happened way before they contact the candidate for an interview. And so you’ll never know why you didn’t get called in for an interview on a seemingly perfect fit.

Think of it this way – like your mom used to tell you – don’t ever post anything online you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see, or read about you.

Suggestion 2 – Contact Methods

This graphic shows the reader what contact methods to use at the top of their resume. Remember the LinkedIn Profile is incredibly important.
Here are some suggestions for header information to include – all contact methods is major “include.”

You want to especially include your LinkedIn Profile address, email address, and phone number. If you have other professionally-oriented accounts on Instagram, Facebook, or whatever, include those, too. Smaller text (not less that 10 point) or 2 lines are acceptable in this case.

This graphic shows that you must put the exact title they are using for this particular position - not your idea here - use only their wording. If they are lokoing for. a
Use their exact title, so they know what position you’re going for.

You want to include the exact title of the position you’re applying for as you format your resume. Do this so that HR won’t be confused. Help them help you. You don’t want them to think you are a candidate for a “Director of Sales in the NorthEast Region” position, for example.

Don’t underestimate the importance of this fact – many recruiters are trying to fill multiple positions at any given time.

Don’t get creative here

For example, don’t say you are a “Chief Sales Officer” if they are looking for a “Chief Revenue Officer.” In their minds these are two different positions and the CSO position is already filled.

In that case you will not be contacted for a screening interview.

This picture talks about your quantified achievements in the first paragraph, while the second paragraph contains a few soft skills, so they can see a bit of how you do what you do.
The “Wow is me!” paragraph. Show quantified results, and some soft skills in the second graph.

In the above graphic, we see that there are quantified (hard) results, formatted correctly, in the first paragraph. The second paragraph starts to tell the story of how you do what you do (soft skills).

Again, culture fit is paramount in the hiring process.

We call these two paragraphs the “Wow is me!” paragraph for short. This is where you get to start telling your story in your correctly formatted resume.

Remember that there is a fine line between being arrogant and being confident. Hiring authorities like to see a candidate that’s confident in their ability to do the job they are looking to fill.

Arrogance will bite you in the ankle every time.

Reflect confidence in your track record. Be able to relay it with a matter-of-fact tone, and you’ll have a better chance being hired for this opportunity.

So this post has the first 4 of the 8 resume formatting suggestions. Be on the lookout for Part 2, soon!

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