Most Job Seekers Know Their Resume Must Be Strong Enough To “Beat the Bots” — Yet They Are Making These Critical Mistakes

TopResume’s New Survey Reveals Job Seekers’ Ignorance About the Electronic Gatekeepers That Determine Their Resume's Fate

NEW YORK (April 10, 2018)  Most job seekers know that when they apply for a job online, it is first reviewed by a company’s applicant tracking system — or ATS, for short — which scans and ranks job applications. According to new research conducted by TopResume, the largest resume-writing service in the world, 89 percent of job seekers acknowledge their resume will be viewed by an ATS before a human being, but they are not making their resumes ATS-friendly.

“Our latest survey reveals that although most job seekers are aware of the ATS, they don't necessarily understand how it reads their application — and what they can easily do to their online resume to help it ‘beat the bots’,” said Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume, who is also a Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) and a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW). “They know that a robot is the first gatekeeper in their resume’s review, yet they are sabotaging their chances of getting beyond this first step by forgetting to make their resume ATS-compatible.”

TopResume recently examined 1,000 resumes from career-driven professionals across the country, with at least eight years of experience, to identify the most common resume mistakes that will cause an applicant tracking system to toss an application. Below are the top resume missteps, which also are illustrated in the infographic here.

  • Using the wrong file type:


    43% of the resumes analyzed were using a file type that is not compatible with all ATS software. Contrary to popular belief, PDF is not universally the best file type to use for your resume. Some applicant tracking systems are unable to read content that is saved as a PDF. The best file type for your resume is a Word document in .doc or .docx. Plain-text files are also compatible with an ATS, but they limit your formatting options.

  • Placing important details in the header or footer:


    25% of the resumes analyzed had at least a portion of their contact information considered ‘unidentifiable’ by the ATS. To avoid this resume mistake, place important contact details (such as your name, phone number, or email address) outside the header or footer of your resume.

  • Embedding graphics:


    21% of the resumes included charts or other images that were unreadable by the ATS. Most applicant tracking systems cannot read information stored within an image, so all of those details will be lost on the system.

Another mistake that TopResume revealed was job seekers’ failure to optimize their resume with relevant keywords, meaning, to identify language found in their desired job descriptions and then incorporating it into your resume at least twice. Lastly, resumes with elaborate designs that follow a non-traditional layout get scrambled by the bots. If you want your resume to pass the ATS and progress to a live human for review, focus on delivering a resume with a clean and simple design, and a hybrid or chronological format.

Click on the following link for more information on these top resume mistakes and tips on how to write a resume to beat the ATS.

On an ongoing basis, the data science team at Talent Inc., the global leader in technology-enabled career services and also the parent company of TopResumeTopInterview, and TopCV, compiles nationwide data from their customers to better understand current behavioral trends in the job market. Visit TopResume's Career Advice blog to see their latest tips for coaching job seekers through their search.

Media inquiries

Lisa Hagendorf
  • About TopResume

    TopResume, a Talent Inc. company, is the world’s premier resume-writing service, analyzing millions of resumes and LinkedIn profiles each year. Job seekers work directly with professional writers and industry experts to redefine their personal brand and stand out from the crowd during the job-search process. Follow TopResume on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram and visit TopResume to request a free confidential resume review

  • About

Media inquiries

Lisa Hagendorf