How to format an ATS friendly resume in 2024

In an era where technology has evolved so much, mastering the art of crafting an ATS-friendly resume is key. As job seekers, we often invest substantial time honing our skills and detailing our experiences, yet the careful use of keywords and formatting can be the deciding factor in whether our resume advances to the next stage.

The role of formatting in ATS-compliant resumes cannot be understated. Understanding the pivotal role that formatting plays in ensuring your resume not only gets noticed but also passes through the digital scrutiny unscathed. In the competitive realm of job applications, your resume's compatibility with these automated tracking systems can be the key to unlocking doors to your professional aspirations.

This blog shares actionable insights and tips to format an ATS friendly resume. We will cover the next sections:

  1. Layout and Design: The Guide
  2. Section-wise Formatting Tips: Tailoring Your Resume for ATS Success
  3. Optimizing Headers and Footers: Ensuring Seamless Communication with ATS Systems
  4. File Types and Compatibility: Choosing the Right Format for ATS Harmony
  5. Ensuring Compatibility Through Proactive Measures

1- Layout and Design: The Guide

Crafting an ATS-friendly resume goes beyond the substance of your professional journey; it extends to the visual presentation. An impeccable layout and design can make the difference between your resume being overlooked and it capturing the attention it deserves. Here are things you need to keep in mind when it comes to the layout and design of your resume.

Simplicity is Key

When it comes to resume layouts, simplicity reigns supreme. Stick to a clean and straightforward design that allows the ATS to easily navigate through your document. Avoid complex tables, graphics, or complicated formatting that might confuse the system.

Use Standard Fonts

Opt for easily readable, standard fonts such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman. These fonts are universally recognized and won’t pose compatibility issues with most ATS systems.

Appropriate Font Sizes

Maintain consistency in font sizes throughout your resume. A common practice is to use 11 or 12-point font for the body text and slightly larger fonts for section headings to create a hierarchy.

Strategic Use of White Space

Don’t underestimate the power of white space. A well-balanced layout with sufficient white space enhances readability and ensures the ATS can comprehend your content seamlessly.

Save the Stylish Templates for Later

While it's tempting to use visually appealing templates, they may not play well with ATS algorithms. Stick to a classic and straightforward template to avoid compatibility issues.

Remember, your resume is not just a reflection of your professional history; it's a document that needs to communicate effectively with the automated systems that screen it. In the next section, we'll delve into specific formatting tips for each resume section, ensuring every part of your professional story is told in a language the ATS understands.

2- Section-wise Formatting Tips: Tailoring Your Resume for ATS Success

Creating an ATS-friendly resume requires meticulous attention to each section, acknowledging the nuanced preferences of these automated systems for accurate interpretation and categorization.

Contact Information

Begin with a clear presentation of your contact information at the resume's top, within the main body. Include your full name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile for easy identification.

Professional Summary or Objective

Create a clear professional summary infused with industry-relevant keywords. This section serves as a quick snapshot for the ATS, emphasizing key skills and experiences that align with the job requirements.

Work Experience

Format your work experience chronologically, with the most recent position at the forefront. Utilize bullet points to clearly outline accomplishments and responsibilities, seamlessly incorporating industry-specific keywords for optimal impact.


Present your educational background in reverse chronological order, beginning with the latest degree earned. Include details such as the institution's name, degree obtained, graduation date, and any pertinent honors or awards.


Create a dedicated skills section, strategically featuring keywords pertinent to the targeted job. Showcase a mix of hard and soft skills, emphasizing versatility and aligning with the specific requirements of the position.

Certifications and Training

If applicable, integrate a section highlighting certifications and training. Emphasize relevant credentials that align with the job's prerequisites, providing a comprehensive overview of your qualifications.

By customizing each section to adhere to ATS preferences, you enhance the likelihood of your resume successfully navigating the initial digital screening process. In our subsequent discussion, we'll delve into the often-overlooked elements of headers and footers, elucidating their significant impact on ATS compatibility.

3- Optimizing Headers and Footers: Ensuring Seamless Communication with ATS Systems

In the context of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), even seemingly minor details like headers and footers play a crucial role in the effectiveness of your resume. Consistency in these elements is paramount, as maintaining uniform headers and footers throughout the document aids the ATS in accurately identifying and parsing essential information. This ensures a smooth processing of your resume, aligning with the expectations of these automated systems.

An essential consideration involves the strategic placement of vital details. To optimize recognition by ATS systems, place crucial information, such as contact details and key keywords, within the main body of the resume. This practice is advised as ATS systems may not consistently extract data from headers or footers, making the main body the preferred location for critical details.

Furthermore, it is prudent to exercise caution with the use of special characters and symbols. While visually appealing, not all ATS systems are compatible with these elements. To ensure seamless communication and processing, it is advisable to stick to standard text, avoiding the inclusion of special characters. These thoughtful considerations set the groundwork for a visually appealing and technically optimized resume, enhancing its chances of navigating the intricate landscape of the hiring process.

4- File Types and Compatibility: Choosing the Right Format for ATS Harmony

With the advancement of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), the choice of file format can significantly impact the accurate parsing of your resume. To align seamlessly with ATS systems, prioritize text-based formats such as .docx or .txt, as they are more likely to be universally compatible. While PDFs may offer aesthetic appeal, it's prudent to avoid them unless explicitly requested by the employer, as some ATS systems may encounter difficulties extracting information from PDF files.

Additionally, the importance of simple file naming conventions should not be underestimated. When saving your resume, opt for a clear and recognizable file name. This simplicity is not just a matter of organization; it ensures that the ATS can effortlessly identify and categorize your document, streamlining the parsing process for optimal efficiency. Check our dedicated article to get more insights how ATS process resumes.

5- Ensuring Compatibility Through Proactive Measures

Before submitting your resume, take proactive steps to guarantee compatibility with ATS systems. Leverage ATS-friendly tools available online to simulate the scanning process, allowing you to identify and rectify any potential issues. This preemptive approach ensures that your resume not only meets the technical requirements of the ATS but also stands out as a professionally formatted and easily navigable document. By embracing these considerations, you enhance the chances of your resume seamlessly navigating the digital channels of the hiring process.


In the competitive world of job hunting, your resume is your ambassador, and an ATS-friendly format is its language. From mastering layout and design principles to optimizing headers, footers, and file formats, each element plays a crucial role in ensuring your resume sails smoothly through the automated tools.

Remember, the goal is not just to create a visually appealing document but to construct a resume that speaks the language of the ATS. By implementing the tips outlined in this guide, you enhance your chances of making it through the initial screening and landing the interview.



Foster Arens

Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)

Foster is an expert copywriter with a decade focus on HR and recruitment, specializing in resumes and cover letters. His expertise lies in highlighting individual talents and achievements, driven by a passion for leveraging AI in career development. Foster aims to bridge talent and opportunity, helping clients exceed their career goals.

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