photo by Sounds like a federal agency.

It’s not.

ATS stands for Applicant Tracking Software. And most big employers use some version of it.

You can tell when an employer uses ATS because you have to fill out an on-line form.  Sometimes the ATS allows you to upload your resume, and other times you must paste your resume into the box provided.

How many of you have pasted your resume in that box only to see it look sloppy and lacking the format you so carefully crafted?

The easiest way to make sure your resume looks good in the text box is to make a Plain Text Version of your resume.  Here’s how:

  • Open your Word resume.  Make sure it’s got an easily identifiable name, preferably “Your Name Resume Month Year”.
  • In Word, click “save as.”
  • When the “save in” window opens, go down to the Save As Type box and scroll down the options to select Plain Text. Then click Save.
  • You will now see a box that warns you that formatting will not be preserved in the plain text format. That’s exactly what we want, so click Save.

You now have a plain text version of your resume…except it still looks a lot like the Word document! Let’s fix that.

  • Close the open resume document.
  • Go to “My Documents” and find the documents labeled “Your Name Resume Month Year.”
  • One will have the “W” icon identifying it as a Word Document.
  • Another with the same name will have a notebook-looking icon next to it. This is the plain text version.
  • Click on the plain text document to open it.
  • You will see your resume in a computer-y type font, and text everywhere.
  • The goal is to align all text to the left margin, because tabs and spacing will make text show up haphazardly. So hit return, cut out extra empty space, and make every line of text flush left.
  • For bulleted items, you can use asterisks (*) or double hyphens (–) and a space.
  • When you complete the reformatting, click on “File” and “Save.”
  • For any hyperlinks, you need to spell them out because plain text does not permit active hyperlinks.

You now have a plain text resume that will show you off best in an Applicant Tracking Software.