Everything You Need To Know About Resume Templates

Nobody likes writing resumes (except us!). It's tempting to download prefabricated resume templates, especially the ones with bright colors and cool icons or graphs.

Did you know that these resumes are likely never making it to the hiring manager when you apply online?


Their Applicant Tracking Software (ATS)

It's fair to say that there are a lot of jobs posted and advertised online. It's even more fair to say that 90% of the job you are apply to are these online job postings. So have you given any thought to what happens when you upload your resume to these online job postings?

First your resume is parsed, or stripped of all formatting. This process leaves the software with only the text. The software then filters through the information and categorizes the content. Your information is then entered into a database where employers and HR managers can search for specific qualifications to find their ideal candidate. This is the simple explanation of how Applicant Tracking systems, or an ATS, works.


Your Resume Template...

Can you already see a problem or two with the resume you've been uploading for job applications? Here are the five major problems with most resume templates:


...Is a PDF

When you have a Word document, you need Microsoft Word to open the document to maintain the design or formatting. PDFs are secure documents that can be opened universally on any computer without being limited by software. The problem is they are so secure that most Applicant Tracking systems can't parse them.

In other words, your resume can't be read by software if your resume template comes in PDF format only. Most PDFs are very large files too (mostly because of the design elements and formatting), so most likely the PDF is being rejected and tossed out by file size alone.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Employers will rarely see your resume if your resume template is a PDF.


...Is Graphic

The latest trend in resume design is having a visually graphic presentation of your skills and experiences. This can include photos, different fonts, lots of color, tables, icons, graphs, and charts. While, yes, these make your resume FAR more interesting to read, they are likely keeping your resume from actually being read.

Applicant Tracking software can't store photos or recognize graphs and charts. Remember they can only read and store text information. If you're using graphs to show your accomplishments, employers that find your resume in their database will never see them.

KEY TAKEAWAY: If your resume template has a lot of design elements including photos, new and interesting fonts,  or graphs, your resume won't be readable.


...Has More Icons Than Keywords

This is an extension of the last point made. Icons are a huge trend when representing skills. Why? Our eyes like to see less information and more visuals. Unfortunately, this is not the case for employer software.

The keywords you use to describe your skills and experiences is vital to being selected out of hundreds or even thousands in a database like an ATS. Employers may be looking for "Team Leader" or "Cut Costs." Their software won't know that an icon with stick figures or a dollar sign means the same as these keywords. 

KEY TAKEAWAY: A resume template using icons instead of keywords will keep your resume hiding in the endless abyss of resumes in an employer's ATS. 


...Has A Unique Flow Of Information

So many resume templates have the contact information at the bottom of the resume or vertically along the side. Many also have the information divided into different columns to make the flow of information more interesting or unique. Yes, this looks different and you may think this will make you stand out, but you're really throwing Applicant Tracking software off.

When your information is parsed, the software will want to put your information in a particular order. So instead of your name, the software may put your last employer in the First Name field of their database. Employers will never find you or your resume like this.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Your resume template needs to be appropriately organized and present your information in the following order: Contact Information, Summary of Skills, Experience, Education, Professional Development, Community Involvement, and Additional Information.


...Has Creative Headings

Not only does your information need to be presented in the correct order, but you need to help the ATS out a bit when it comes to identifying your information. Your resume template may include interesting and unique headings, but they will not help your information be parsed and stored correctly.

Some common but harmful headings include "Hello" and "Introduction" instead of just listing your contact information and "What I Do" instead of Professional Experience or Work History.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Use standard headings like Summary of Qualifications, Qualifications, Key Skills, Professional Experience, Work History, Education, Training, etc.


Need help getting started with your resume? This Microsoft Word resume template is the resume design most requested by my clients!

Create an ATS-approved resume using Microsoft Word and minimal design elements.