Graphics and heavy formatting may look super professional. But, they can hurt your job application more than anything else. If you are applying online or through job boards, here are 4 reasons why you should never put the pictures or heavy formatting on your resume:

1. ATS CAN’T READ THEM

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are the computer programs used by most employers to manage all of the applications received for their various job postings. These HR software programs are built around keywords and searching for matches based on what the recruiter or system believes to be the skills needed for the position. Thus, the ATS system is driven by words – finding, matching, and flagging them for the recruiter. So, to improve your results, take the graphics off of your resume and use that space to:

  • Add a skills section. This is an easy way to improve your matching with the ATS algorithms and to make it simple for a recruiter to decide to call you.
  • Highlight your achievements. Add a section to specifically call out your most relevant and recent achievements to the position that you are applying to.
  • Incorporate training. Including the names of training, seminars, or conferences can be a great way to add keywords to your resume while also showcasing your current knowledge in the field.

2. GRAPHICS ARE READ INCORRECTLY

Even if the ATS or online job board can read your graphics, it won’t do it correctly. More often than not, the system will reformat the pictures into characters that it can read which translate into nonsense for the recruiter. As a result, the recruiter will stop looking at your profile in the system and you have lost. No one wants to spend unnecessary time applying for jobs where they will get immediately rejected. Improve the effectiveness of your efforts by removing the graphics from your resume and instead:

  • Add specifics. Use the space to explain what your role was in the achievement and how you contributed to the efforts. Thus, making it easy for a recruiter to understand why you could do a great job in the open position.
  • Incorporate numbers. Including numbers to illustrate the scale of your experience or the result is one of the most effective ways to land the interview.
  • Name drop. Including client or customer information where possible can be a great way to add keywords to your resume that will make you a better match.

3. CREATES UNNECESSARY BIAS AGAINST YOU

Spending time to incorporate colors, designs, or pictures on your resume can be read the wrong way. For example, the recruiter may think that you are only including the design to hide a lack of experience. Or, given the need to sell yourself, the hiring manager may see a focus on pictures rather than substance as a red flag that you won’t focus on the important things. And, most recently, many employers are actively paying for systems that strip out all personal identifiers to eliminate unconscious or other intentional bias against traditionally disadvantaged populations. Thus, while the graphics may seem like a good idea, the reality is that they could easily be interpreted against you.

4. MAKES MORE WORK FOR RECRUITERS

Applying for jobs is an art where you are trying to sell yourself as a good fit for the open position. When doing that, no one wants to start off on the wrong foot with the recruiter. Meaning that you don’t want to make more work for them. For example, a recruiter will typically do the following things when they receive your resume:

  • Parse the resume. This is the step where the system will review your resume automatically and pull out the key information based on the existing system settings. The recruiter will frequently have to download your resume or otherwise manually add it to the ATS for parsing.
  • Fix the system’s review of your resume. No ATS or job board catches all of the keywords or relevant information properly in its parsing. This means that the recruiter will almost always have to review and/or fix something on your profile to make it accurate based on your resume. This is also the step where many recruiters will stop if they don’t immediately see the value in your resume for the current opening.
  • Match you with the job. The recruiter will need to associate you with the job opening if you didn’t apply directly online or through a system that will automate this step. Again, if you don’t get past step 2 then you can’t be tracked or sent to the hiring manager.
  • Contact you to schedule an interview. The recruiter will reach out by email, text, or phone to get you on the schedule to talk more about your background. Failing to include current contact information or including it in a way that isn’t readable will kill your chances and give the recruiter reason never to try to reach you again.

So, take the graphics out of your resume to help the recruiter by eliminating any extra steps and making it easier for the recruiter to like you from the start.

The resume is simply a tool to land an interview. Remember that the tool needs to fit the systems where it will be used. So, any one of these 4 reasons is reason enough not to include any pictures on your resume ever. Still not convinced? Try taking the images, colors, or graphics out of your resume. Use that simple resume for 10 positions and see how much more traction you’ll get. Undoubtedly, you will find significantly better results and likely decide to keep that design version for interviews or networking only.

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