How to Format a Resume in 2020: The Ultimate Guide

Author —
January 13, 2021

Whether you’re currently looking for a job or you’ve been in the professional workforce for years, your resume is the most important document in your career. A properly-formatted resume can be the key to getting hired at your dream company, but creating the perfect one that stands out while accurately highlighting your experience is not an easy task. After all, companies receive hundreds of resumes for any given role, and 72% are never read by an actual human.

To understand why resume formatting matters, you first need to understand how resumes are filtered. With the number of talented job applicants increasing, the majority of companies today are moving toward applicant tracking systems (ATS) to organize and sort applications. These systems can be configured to filter candidates based on different criteria, such as work experience, education, and more.

When applying for roles, it is important to make an ATS-friendly resume that can be accurately read and understood. In this blog post, you will learn how to write a resume that can pass applicant tracking systems. Here are tips you can start using today.

Use a Simple Design

When it comes to creating an ATS-optimized resume, you need to know how it will be read by the software. Like most human readers, an ATS will read from left to right and top to bottom. For this reason, it is important to use simple formatting.

You should avoid placing information, such as your name, into the header or footer of your resume. Many applicant tracking systems are not able to extract the information in these sections, so they may automatically remove it from your application.

Instead, your name should always be at the top of the resume in a large and readable font. Directly underneath is where you can add your contact information, followed by professional experience and education as well as optional sections such as projects, coursework, skills, and involvement.

Customize for Keywords

Each time you submit your resume for a job that uses ATS, your resume is saved in a large database along with other applicants. Hiring managers can use this database search for applicants whose resumes include specific key phrases related to their job opening. These are often a specific skill or job title.

When creating your resume, it is important to research and include the right keywords. You can start by carefully reviewing the job description for important keywords and manually incorporating them into your resume.

If you’re looking for a faster solution for finding and incorporating keywords, try Rezi’s free A.I resume builder. This tool allows you to quickly tailor your resume to each job you’re applying for. Simply create your resume and upload a job description, and in seconds, Rezi AI identifies the important keywords missing from your resume.

Avoid Stylish Formatting

In order for ATS to analyze your resume for relevant keywords, the system will convert the document into a text-only file. After this conversion, all formatting will be lost. As a result, the ATS may not be able to extract out the important information.

Tables, columns, and text boxes are great methods of organizing complex information on a resume. However, it is important to remember that ATS does not recognize these elements. If the content of your resume is located in similar formatting, the ATS is very likely to miss it.

You should avoid using elements such as tables, photos, columns, and text boxes. Instead, choose universal fonts such as Helvetica, Arial, Garamond, or Georgia as they are available on virtually all computers and designed to be easily readable.

Establish a Timeline

ATS software and hiring managers alike want to see a clear and consistent work history timeline. A reverse chronological resume (i.e most recent experience first) timeline holds a great deal of significance as it is often considered the standard for all industries.

A reverse chronological resume is a great choice for anyone whose work history shows consistent career continuity. It is important to include dates of employment as ATS systems can measure the years of experience you have.

It is also a standard rule of thumb that your resume is only one page. As you grow in your career, you will find that skills and experience on your resume that were once relevant, may not be anymore. Consider bringing the most relevant information to the forefront, while removing unnecessary details.


With more than 90% of Fortune 500 Companies using Applicant Tracking System to screen candidates, it is more important than ever to have a properly formatted resume. An ATS-optimized resume is the first step to getting your resume passed the computers, and in the hands of a hiring manager.

Are you ready to create your own ATS-optimized resume? Rezi AI is an incredibly powerful and free resume software that helps you tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for. With Rezi AI, you will know exactly which skills and keywords ATS software is searching for. You can then add these missing items to your resume and improve your chances of being selected for an interview.

Related Articles

Go to blog

15 Of The Best ATS Resume Examples in 2021

Generally, the first hurdle of the hiring process is passing the applicant tracking system.

March 8, 2021

How to Format a Resume in 2020: The Ultimate Guide

A properly-formatted resume can be the key to getting hired at your dream company.

January 13, 2021