ATS-friendly resumes for designers

Hi everyone,

I am a new grad starting to apply to product/industrial design jobs. I was wondering what everyone’s experience is with making sure their resume doesn’t get filtered out by automatic parsing software (ATS) before a human even sees it. My two-column format PDF resume gets garbled when imported into job-seeking websites, so I’m worried about it getting thrown out immediately when applying to online listings at companies that use automatic screening.

Do you all have a Word document version with very limited formatting that you use in these situations? If so, how do you decide when to use the “machine-friendly” version and “human-friendly” version? And does anyone have some tips on how to design a machine-friendly version that won’t get passed over but still looks nice?


I have never submitted my resume this way.
But I read a while back that some put lots of different key words in tiny font and in white at the bottom of their resume so only a machine can read it.
Not sure this is advisable but I thought it was pretty clever.

Thanks for your reply. That does sound like a clever idea - I’ll definitely keep it in mind!

I wonder if there is a site where you can upload your resume and get a preview of what the algorithm will do to it?

I’ve been concerned about this in the past as well, fearful that my aesthetically-pleasing PDF is doing more harm than good.

Many of the systems will give you a text box to input your cv as raw text. I try to keep a version of my cv as a txt file up to date for that purpose.

If you want to have an idea of how an ATS will see your cv, you can try opening the pdf and doing select all (crtl-a) and copy pasting into notepad. As long as columns aren’t getting spliced together, you should be ok.

Some websites show you a preview of the parsed results, sometimes you have to look for it.
Then you can edit the parsed text. I also keep a text version of the PDF to copy-paste in those cases.
If you don’t want it parsed, export the entire page as a jpg or tiff through PS/AI.