How Your Resume is Parsed

By Kathy Beattie on

Years and years ago, people tried to get the attention of a recruiter by making their paper resume/CV “stand out.” They’d try fancier paper, special fonts, columns, formatting, bold headlines and putting their picture on their CV. I personally like the fellow who mailed one new shoe to an employer with his resume and a note stating, “I’d like to get my other foot in the door.”

Today most jobs are posted on job boards or on company websites and the application process is done all online. Dozens to thousands of people may be applying for the same job. If you’re a corporate or staffing agency recruiter, you simply don’t have time to look at every resume. Resumes are parsed and entered electronically into an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). 

ATS programs convert the information from online resumes into a structured format that is used by recruiters to match your relevant skills, work history, educational background and other experience to current job openings in their system. Since a recruiter will often not look at the resume you sent unless your extracted skills and experience match what they are looking for, it is vital that your resume is formatted in such a way that it can be easily parsed. If your resume is not easy for the ATS to read, vital information may not make its way into the ATS and you might not be considered for positions that are a good match for your skills and experience. 

Here are some tips to help ensure that your resume is accurately parsed:

  • Use a standard font like Times New Roman, Ariel or Calibri. ATS sometimes can’t read fancier fonts.
  • Use a 10-12 point sized font.
  • Use a Microsoft Word .doc or .docx format instead of a .pdf whenever possible.
  • Section headings such as “Skills,” “Education,” “Experience” and “Summary” let the ATS know where to look for important information. Keep them straightforward and simple.
  • Don’t use margins smaller than .75”-1.”
  • Parsing software needs to have spaces to see where a new section starts.
  • Don’t use headers or footers for name, address, phone number and email address. Put them on the top of your resume body. Most ATS programs skip headers and footers.
  • Don’t use online resume templates. The formatting can confuse ATS software.
  • Use keywords! If the job description mentions specific skills you have but have either not included or have worded differently, change those skills to have the same working as the job description. For example, let’s say you are a machinist who can read blueprints. The job description says “reads blueprints” and your resume says “plans.” Change “plans” to the keyword “blueprints.” This is why your resume has to be “tweaked” for every job. The more keyword matches, the higher you’ll place as a candidate to be viewed.

Recruiters save time, and can get to you faster if you put in the time and effort to get your resume prepared to be parsed!

Need some help with your resume? We can lend a hand. Click below to contact TriMech Staffing!