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How To Avoid Roadblocks That Sabotage Your Job Applications

Are you wondering why your resume, which is chock full of color, graphics, pictures, unique characters, and symbols, isn’t landing you interviews? The culprit is most likely all of those fancy bells and whistles—they typically work against you.

Don’t let this discourage you from taking a creative approach to your resume and career positioning because you do need to individualize yourself. Still, it’s essential to avoid confusing the parsing systems. Rather than leading with aesthetics, focus on articulating value.

For those of you who have heard of ATS systems, AKA Application Tracking Systems, that’s not the only part of your job application process that should concern you. There are also systems referred to as parsing systems.

The simple explanation of a parsing system is that it is the technology responsible for analyzing and interpreting your digital application/resume data to be organized and reviewed thereafter. More specifically, have you ever noticed when you’re prompted to submit/attach your resume/CV, immediately after, a whole bunch of information (such as your name, phone number, city/state, etc.) populates? That’s a parsing system as work.

When an applicant is prompted to attach a resume/CV, there are typically options to submit a variety of formats, e.g. Microsoft Word, PDF, etc.

There’s a lot of debate surrounding the use of Microsoft Word vs. PDF documents for the digital application process—the fact is, both file formats have value.

The benefits of submitting a PDF version of your resume:

  • Typically, an accepted format for job application submissions

  • Keeps your resume formatting secured for the submission process

  • Protects your data, organization, and formatting within the document

The benefits of having a Word version of your resume:

  • An easy-to-reference version that can be modified as needed

  • Some parsing systems may require the submission of a Word-formatted document

Ideally, it’s optimal to have both a Word and PDF version of your resume so you are able to:

  • Modify/add any relevant new details, accomplishments, etc. as your career progresses

  • Control the context and visual presentation of your career-positioning assets

If you find yourself confused about which resume file format is optimal for a job application submission, my suggestion would be to submit as a PDF whenever it’s an acceptable file format—This way, you’ll be able to protect your resume’s formatting and content.


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