Four Resume Red Flags to Avoid when Applying to a Job Online


During a job search, your resume is one of your most important tools. As this document is often your first impression with a recruiter or hiring manager, it needs to shine! So, how to do you take a resume from average to outstanding!?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a universal set of rules to writing a perfect resume. The effectiveness of a resume might depend on the situation; e.g. applying to an online job post v.s. going to a face-to-face interview. Furthermore, preferences can vary from person-to-person, company-to-company and industry-to-industry. The key is understanding your audience as well as the intended end use of the document.

4 Tips to Creating an Effective, ATS-Ready Resume

Keep it simple! The purpose of a resume is to help you get found. Here are a few tips to help you create an ATS-friendly resume and get the job you want!

1. Get Rid of Charts & Graphs

While visuals can provide a significant amount of information, supplementing the text in your resume – and showing off your creativity – they tend to cause problems when imported into Applicant Tracking Systems. Unfortunately, ATS’ often have trouble recognizing images and are therefore unable to extract the data. When information from a chart or picture is omitted, fields which would have otherwise populated with text, are left blank and the content remains unsearchable in the future. Avoid this issue by utilizing a logical format, using headers and simple bullets to keep content clean and easy to scan. If you want to show off your creative side, have a alternate resume for interviews and incorporate visual aids into your LinkedIn profile (or personal webpage, blog or portfolio).

2. Remove Fancy Formatting

Optimize your resume to be read by an ATS. Similar to charts and graphs, many Applicant Tracking Systems have a hard time recognizing content in tables, columns and fields. While it might look visually appealing, displaying your work history in a chart, it could cause the ATS to overlook the entire section! Utilize a basic layout for online applications and save the fancy version for interviews.

3. Functional Format Experience is Dysfunctional

Presenting your past experience in a “functional format” can be less than functional when your resume is imported into an ATS. Without employer names and dates, the system might not know how to classify your work. Instead, list your work history chronologically, starting with your most recent work experience. Focus on notable duties, projects and achievements, utilizing quantifiable information when possible. Avoid lengthy paragraphs by utilizing simple bullets. List certifications and education after work experience.

4. Omit References

The individual reviewing your resume knows you will submit a list of references if asked. Instead of offering up your references’ contact information on every resume you submit, simply include the URL to your LinkedIn profile. This gives recruiters the chance to see who you’re connected with, view skills and endorsements, and provide a means to read any recommendations featured on your profile.


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