The Dos and Don’ts of Formatting Your Resume for an ATS Scanner

In today’s digital age, many companies rely on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to streamline their hiring process. These systems are designed to scan and filter resumes, helping employers find the most qualified candidates efficiently. However, if your resume is not properly formatted for an ATS scanner, it may never make it into the hands of a human recruiter. To increase your chances of getting noticed by both the AI-powered ATS scanners and human recruiters, here are some dos and don’ts for formatting your resume.

I. Do Use Standard Fonts and Formatting

When it comes to formatting your resume for an ATS scanner, simplicity is key. Stick to standard fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri. These fonts are widely recognized by ATS scanners and are less likely to cause any compatibility issues. Additionally, avoid using excessive formatting elements like text boxes, images, or fancy graphics as they can confuse the scanner or cause your resume to be rejected.

II. Don’t Forget to Include Relevant Keywords

One crucial aspect of optimizing your resume for an ATS scanner is including relevant keywords throughout the document. Carefully review the job description and identify keywords that directly relate to the desired skills or qualifications for the position you’re applying for. Incorporate these keywords naturally into your resume, especially in sections such as your summary statement, skills section, and work experience bullet points.

III. Do Use Simple Section Headings

Clear section headings help both ATS scanners and human recruiters quickly navigate through your resume. Stick to simple headings such as “Summary,” “Work Experience,” “Education,” and “Skills.” Avoid using creative or unconventional section titles that may confuse the scanning software.

Within each section heading, use bullet points instead of long paragraphs to present information concisely. Bullet points make it easier for both humans and scanning software to grasp important details at a glance.

IV. Don’t Overlook File Formats

When submitting your resume online or via email, it’s crucial to consider the file format. Most ATS scanners prefer resumes in a plain text format (TXT), as it allows for easy parsing of the content. However, some systems also accept Microsoft Word documents (DOCX) or PDF files. Ensure you read the application instructions carefully and follow any specific file format requirements provided by the employer.

While PDF files can preserve your resume’s formatting, keep in mind that some older ATS scanners may have trouble parsing information from them accurately. In such cases, submitting a plain text version of your resume alongside the PDF can ensure compatibility with all types of ATS scanners.


Formatting your resume for an ATS scanner is essential to ensure that it gets noticed by both artificial intelligence and human recruiters. By keeping your formatting simple, incorporating relevant keywords, using clear section headings and bullet points, and choosing the right file format, you increase your chances of making it past the initial scan and into consideration for a job interview. Remember, striking the right balance between appealing to both ATS scanners and human readers is key to landing your dream job.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.