Step-by-Step Guide: Format Your Resume to Beat Application Tracking Software

 Step-by-Step Guide to Recreating Rezi’s ATS Optimized BETA Template

Before starting your resume makeover, let’s take a look at a typical resume that has not been optimized to pass Applicant Tracking Systems. Let’s fix this messy resume format. In this case, many optimization conventions have been ignored

The example resume that will be optimized to pass ATS in this guide

Like most resumes, this document was created in Word. It doesn’t look horrible but it could still use an improvement. You can improve almost all resumes with four steps.

• Pick a better typeface

• Fix basic formatting

• Reduce extra indentations & Fix Alignment

• Make it easy to read

Objective 1: Picking a better typeface

If you’re using Times New Roman, Word’s default typeface, we should change it to something different. Times doesn’t read well on-screen and lacks typographic subtleties such as non-lining numbers. Because it’s available on virtually all computers and designed to be readable on on-screen, try Garamond instead.

Optimization Importance: 3/10

At that same point size, Garamond appears smaller than Times New Roman, so you’ll want to set the font size a point or two larger. Just make sure you are able to fit all content on one page.

To improve readability, also increase the line spacing (also called leading) to at least 120% of the font size.

To do this in Word:

• In the menubar, go to Format and select Paragraph.

• In the pulldown under Line Spacing, choose Exactly and set the line spacing to 13 points.

Optimization Importance: 2/10

Our example resume currently uses Roboto Lt (Similar to Times New Roman) set at a font size and line spacing of 10pt and 12pt. Let’s change it to Garamond with a font size and line spacing of 10pt and 13pt. The section headers are a font size 11pt.

Objective 2: Fix Basic Formatting

In the example resume we see that about 20% of the total space is wasted. We can do a better job of optimizing space usage with a few simple steps.

• You should bring all content to the left margin

• Add a return between every position

• Select experience and select bullet list to add bullets

Much easier to read. Optimization Importance: 9/10


Objective 3: Reduce extra indentations & Fix Alignment

Next, we reduce the number of indentations. While useful in outlines, too many indentations in a resume will cause your eyes to jump all over the page, destroying page harmony. The goal is to have all text align closely to each other.

After reducing indentations, also hang your bullets:

• Select the bulleted experience.

• Drag first ruler marker to the left margin. Drag second marker to 1/8th of an inch

• On the ruler, drag the First Line Indent marker to left by 1/8th of an inch. Or go to the View menu and select Ruler.

Here’s a detail showing the resume before and after improving indentation:


Correct. Optimization Importance: 4/10

Next, we need to present your skills in a way that is easily digestible and while maximizing space usage. As we see in the example resume, there is no separation of skills based on specific kind. To fix this we will implement a table that allows us to categorize skills by type.

To insert a table:

• In the Menubar, click Tables

• Select New. The table dimensions will always be 2 x the number of rows you need

Try not to have more than four rows

• Categorize the experience based on experience type

• Remove borders by selecting Tables > Borders > None

Optimization Importance: 4/10

Select each cell and select Bullet List to add bullets. Remember inch for spacing between the text and bullet

If you have languages to add, center them just below the table.

We’ve been able to present the skills in about 80% less space. The resume is looking better already:


Objective 4: Make it easy to read

We can give our content typographic ranking which will make the resume easier to skim by highlighting key information.

To best organize the key details of company, position, and date:

• Start with position left aligned on the first line, then date right aligned on the same line.

• Return and left align the company. If you wish, right align the location on the same line.

Our example resume fails to use bolds and italics to highlight important information. Follow the key below to properly highlight key details:

Education: Bold

Major: Bold

Companies: Bold

Job titles: Bold

Dates: Italics

Location: Italics

The headings for the major sections don’t stick out enough making it difficult to read.

The example resume uses colors which is something to always avoid. So for “Education”, “Work Experience”, “Leadership”, and “Awards” we will use a horizontal line instead of color.

In Word, select the section heading and go to Format in the menubar. From here, you’ll make changes in Borders and Shading.

• Select the Section Header

• Select the Borders tab

• Under Setting, select Custom

• For Style, select a solid line. For Color, choose black. For Width, choose “1/2″.

• In the preview area, click the Bottom Border icon to the left of the preview image.

Add a border for each section header. Optimization Importance: 3/10

Here’s a detail of the difference:

Optimization Importance: 7/10

Now, we will reorganize the personal information and education section to match the formatting of the rest of the resume. Notice that every element of this section has been simplified. We’ve applied a border to the section header, left aligned the key information, and right aligned the supplementary information. The name has been centered and re-sized to 16pt.  

The final resume

Rezi BETA Resume Template (filler text added)


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Views from the IG

  • Remember that if you have limited professional experience, you can include other sections on your resume. Be creative and see how you can fill the page with a combination of internships, projects, volunteering, coursework, and education. Just don't reduce the font to 9 and make the recruiter need to pull out a microscope! Usually a font size of 11-12 will give the best results. 
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  • Tailoring your resume is crucial to your success. Would you rather send 35 generic resumes and get 2 interviews, or send 10 resumes best suited for you and end up with 4 interviews? We have mentioned in past posts how a hiring manager with many resumes to look over might not spend more than several seconds scanning yours. Along with job titles, they are also checking to see if you have the skills necessary for the job. Go through the job description and highlight any job related skills (hard and soft) that it asks for. Then make sure to include those keywords on your resume! Of course only if they apply to you. Making the effort to tailor your resume to each job you apply for will pay off. Don't forget to do the same thing for your cover letter! 
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  • A follow-up to yesterday's post. Remember to list achievements as much as possible rather than just describing your job duties. Let's take a look at a possible bullet on a resume: "responsible for assisting with marketing strategies."🚫❌ That is boring and uninsightful. How can we make it better? By getting specific. 🔥"Created marketing plan with the help of google analytics for an annual fundraiser that made $10,000 in the first 3 days of the campaign."🔥Much better! 💪
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  • An effective resume should focus on accomplishments rather than duties and responsibilities. If you only copy paste the job descriptions from your previous positions then there is nothing that sets you apart from the competition. Potential employers want to know you were a go-getter in past roles who MADE things happen and didn't just passively occupy a seat in the office. Use hard numbers and meaningful metrics to show how you solved problems, enhanced revenue, grew the business or met challenges. You are a superstar, so let them know it! 🌠✨⭐
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  • 😯Worried because you think the only thing you have to list on your resume is your first job washing dishes for your local restaurant? Well great news! ☺There is so much more you can include on your resume than just work experience. Perhaps you majored in French, but took a course in copywriting which is relevant to your desired job. Expand your education section by including that course. Maybe you helped organize an art exhibition or other event? Fantastic, you've got organizational skills.✔ Be creative with your resume and see how you can fill the page with a combination of internships, projects, volunteering, coursework, and education. 💡
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  • Rezi resume tip #2💪💪
No one needs to know about the embarassing things that happened to you in high school. Leave all that drama in the past where it belongs! Resumes should only include your university education, which can be used to highlight any job-relevant courses you took. In most cases GPA will not be necessary to add, however if yours is stellar then feel free to include it. 😃
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  • 🔥Resume tip #1🔥💯 Research from @workopolis shows that recruiters spend an average of fewer than 11 seconds looking at your resume before possibly rejecting your application. 11 seconds! When is the last time you did anything in 11 seconds, other than opening the kitchen cupboard to grab a new bag of Doritos? Don't make it easy for employers to toss you in the no pile by making the information that is important to them easy to find. Ensure a nicely formatted document with work history, education, and skills sections plainly marked. Make sure there are no typos and list all your start and end dates as well as job titles. 👌💥
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  • Stay tuned for our top resume tips! We will be sharing #1 with you tomorrow. 😎🔜☝☝ @tonyrobbins recently posted about research showing 80% of people give up on their New Year resolutions by the 2nd week of February. This is not going to be you. You have a goal this year to get that dream job and you are going to do more than just talk about it! What resources, strategies, and tools are you going to use to crush your goal? Start by turning your dusty old resume into a winner by implementing our top resume tips that we will be sharing with you starting tomorrow! Ride the 🌊🌊 of success with Rezi!
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  • Check out the redesigned Rezi site! Bringing a whole new dimension to our valued customers! 🔥 #websitedesign #resumes #rezi #이력서
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