Don Goodman is a nationally recognized resume coach and provides the following advice on

Are you sending out resumes for perfect-match positions and not getting calls? If so, then you may be the victim of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), the software many companies use to read your resume and rank it according to keywords.

According to Forbes, as many as 75% of qualified applicants are not getting past these systems. And a recent study indicated that over 70% of Fortune 1000 companies are now using Applicant Tracking Systems.

Note that even if you give your resume to a friend who works at a large company, the Human Resources folks will still insist it be fed into the Applicant Tracking System to ensure compliance with EEOC rules.

So, here are six rules to follow to ensure that your resume will be properly interpreted by the ATS:

1. Don’t Use Microsoft Tables

Most Applicant Tracking Systems can’t read information when it’s included in tables. So if your name or other important sections of your resume are in tables, remove the tables and convert the sections to text.

2. Start Off with Your Profile or Profile Summary

And clearly label these sections as such. Using these phrases tells the ATS what section it is and, without it, the section may be overlooked. For example, if you have a job title like “Financial Executive,” followed by your value proposition, this won’t be seen without the “profile” prefix. Put “Profile: Financial Executive,” and the Applicant Tracking System will correctly read the section after the word “profile.”

3. Clearly Denote Other Key Sections

Below your profile or profile summary, the other key sections are experience, education, certifications and affiliations. Again, label these sections as such; don’t preface your career chronology with something like “value offered” because it might not be seen.

4. Make Sure Your Positions Are Listed Properly

Applicant Tracking Systems look for company name, title and dates of employment, so you need to indicate these in a way that it recognizes.

First, the company name should be followed by “Inc.,” “Corp.,” “LLC” or something similar so the system can identify it as a company. Including “Microsoft” by itself does not tell the ATS this is a company, so you need to include “Microsoft Corp.” instead.

You also must have these three components next to each other.

For example, this may not be interpreted correctly:

Merck Corp.

Global healthcare leader

Senior Accountant (6/2006-Present)

Having a company description between the company name and title keeps the ATS from being able to interpret this as a position.

Instead, show it as this:

Merck Corp. – Senior Accountant (6/2006-Present)

Global healthcare leader

Or as this:

Merck Corp.

Senior Accountant


Global healthcare leader

Note, too, that if you’ve held multiple positions at the same company, you need to repeat the company name again for each one.

5. Use Headers for Subsequent Pages

If your resume is longer than one page, repeating your contact information at the top of the subsequent page(s) can confuse the Applicant Tracking System. Use the Microsoft Word “Page Header” function to keep that information hidden from the ATS.

6. Submit Your Resume in the Right Format

Send the resume in Microsoft Word .doc format, not .docx or PDF as not every system can read these formats.

Don Goodman is a nationally recognized resume writer and career coach featured on 3 out of 5 of the top career portals. A graduate of the Wharton School of Business and Stanford University’s Executive Program, Don has helped thousands of people secure their next job.

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