Create a resume that is formatted simply for electronic uploading, and save your creativity for the hard-copy resume you bring with you to the job interview.

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To find out what’s truth and what’s hype when it comes to resume-screening software, I interviewed three experts: A recruiting consultant, a senior corporate recruiter at a Fortune 500 company, and the CEO of a company that uses technology to help recruiters source candidates.

Does font style or size matter?
Almost all companies use some type of applicant tracking system, be it a purchased software package or homegrown. Depending on the system, font style and size could matter.

“Most systems take in information by the candidates either uploading their resume as a PDF or Word document, or copying and pasting their information into individual windows in the software program,” says Genevieve Phillips, a recruiting consultant at Resourceful HR. “If the system allows uploading a PDF, it captures the resume as the candidate has formatted it. But if [an applicant is] copying and pasting information into individual windows or uploading a Word document, the formatting can sometimes become skewed. So it’s best to use standard font styles such as Arial, Helvetica, Calibri or other typical sans serif styles.”

“Font size is another item to consider,” says Glenda Robinson, a senior corporate recruiter with Philips Healthcare in Bothell. “Stick to a size of 10-12 [point type]; otherwise, recruiters might have to take additional steps to fix the information before they can read it in the applicant tracking system.”

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What about graphic elements to separate resume sections?
According to Chirag Nangia, CEO of Reppify, a company that helps recruiters source top candidates, “The simpler the resume, the better.”

“There’s a wide range of success when it comes to applicant tracking systems,” Nangia says. “Some systems can be quite good, while others can have issues with graphics, tables or horizontal lines. Job seekers should play it safe by using relatively standard resume templates and include all important information in the body of the resume, not in the header/footer function.”

How important are keywords?
“Keywords in resumes matter to a certain extent, but not to the level people often think,” says Robinson. “For example, at Philips Healthcare there are trackers for keywords, but we also use a screening section where candidates answer specific questions, such as years of experience, education or specific technical skills they possess. In addition, recruiters view each electronic resume submission. We never determine a candidate’s qualifications based solely off keyword ranking.”

The bottom line
To ensure successful electronic resume submission, don’t use unusual fonts, graphics, tables or horizontal lines, and don’t put information in the header or footer. Create a resume that is formatted simply for electronic uploading, and save your creativity for the hard-copy resume you bring with you to the job interview.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at