Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter explains how to avoid the notorious black hole by using the right file format.

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Today, I’m here with some very simple, very direct, No BS resume advice. Let me talk with you about resumes. The point I want to make is, for most of you, what you're doing is submitting a resume into an applicant tracking system, a talent acquisition system in bureaucratic language.

What these systems are all designed to do is (#1) accept the resume, (#2) be searchable, (#3) satisfy federal reporting requirements and (#4) make it easy for on boarding should you be fortunate enough to be hired.

The important thing from your standpoint is that this is your entry point into an organization and when firms are looking at these resumes, what they're doing is searching for the particular keywords that are relevant for a job search.

So, again, your resume has to demonstrate a fit but, more importantly, unless it follows certain conventions, the systems reject them.

The one legendary thing people seem to insist every once in a while and send a JPEG; they want to use a PDF. They embed the header on in Word (that is that area we can embed something in at the top or bottom). The systems are unreliable in reading embedded headers and, because of federal reporting requirements, do you know what firms do? They delete them because they just have to give accurate information to the government and do you think they are really going to sit there and retype them and all this information in? Of course, not.

So, use Word. Don't use an embedded header. These systems will take text files but who once to go through it? If you don't own Word, that’s the way you may have to go through it or Google doc.

But you want to have a resume that demonstrates a fit and is used in a file format that the systems like, if you want to have a pretty version of your resume out there, it's okay. Put it on a website.

You can put on Tumblr or any number of other sites and make its SEO optimized. Use a PDF in those formats. The idea becomes, very simply, that attractive version of your resume SEO optimized, will attract people to you for years to come.

So, my reminder to you, my advice to you is Word files, keyword optimized for the particular job that's been being recruited for is really very simple.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1200 episodes, “Job Search Radio,” “and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Connect with me on LinkedIn. Then message me to schedule an initial complimentary session.

If you have questions for me, call me through the Magnifi app for iOS (video) or (phone) offers great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.  

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

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