Resume mistakes - do they mean you're not even getting through the ATS?

Creative Resume Mistakes that Are Holding You Back

Whether you’re a designer, developer, or marketer, your creativity likely drives your career. There’s a good chance that creativity translates to your online presence, whether to your LinkedIn profile, web portfolio, or your resume. We encourage showcasing your creativity, and we’re always on the lookout for the top trends to keep your CV fresh and tidy, refresh your portfolio, and make the most of LinkedIn.

In a perfect creative world, right-brainers would reign and expression of their imaginations would be unrestricted, but in the real world, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) exist. Recruiters have hundreds of resumes to review. Managers have little time to consider anyone other than the perfect candidate.

You may not want to hear it, but the design flair you’re eager to show off on your resume might be the reason you’re not getting the job—you have the qualifications, but your resume isn't getting through the gatekeeper and in front of recruiters' eyes!

Consider the following tips to create variations of your resume that are both human- and ATS-friendly and increase your chances of landing that first interview.

Pay Attention to File Type

Although there are mixed thoughts about the reliability of submitting a PDF resume versus a Word document in order to maintain the formatting, there is little debate about how unreadable JPG/JPEG, PNG, and other image formats are. This goes for both computers and humans because image formats don’t allow people to hit Ctrl-F (command-F, for all you Mac users) in order to search for keywords.

If you use any file format that isn’t explicitly listed as acceptable by the platform you’re applying through, your resume will be relegated to the bottom of the pile. Showcase your Photoshop skills in your portfolio instead and stick to simple Word docs and PDFs for your resume.

Reconsider Graphics and Charts

For designers, visual samples are vital — especially when your resume reaches a human. While your safest bet is to remove any graphics, charts, or tables from your ATS-friendly resume, we don’t blame you for wanting to show off a bit. In fact, we encourage including them if you are 100% certain that the ATS will accept a PDF file. Just make sure pertinent information or relevant keywords are not just in graphics because they may not be parsed by the ATS, which could keep your resume from moving forward. 

Speaking of pertinent information, avoid the headers and footers of a Word document altogether. Many ATS cannot read these sections so it’s best not to even risk it. 

Keywords, Keywords, Keywords

You may have heard this many times before, but it’s so important that we’re going to cover it again: Keywords are crucial for optimizing any job application. They apply to both the content of your resume sections and your job titles. Even the section headers should be simple and in line with the job description. 

The keywords and phrases you should use include certifications, software, and specific responsibilities outlined in the job posting. You might not meet every key requirement listed, but you can at least include the most common filters used, namely job titles and location. 

Make It Easy for Humans

Now, let’s assume your resume gets through the ATS, or better yet, you’re in a situation where your resume lands directly in front of a human (if you can, we recommend sliding into their DMs). You have a very short window to give them what they want, so keep your resume to two pages in length or fewer (one is always better) and include a link to your LinkedIn page for a more detailed professional profile.

With that in mind, always hyperlink any URLs on your resume, especially those leading to your social media and portfolio pages. Copying and pasting isn’t exactly difficult but it becomes tedious and time-consuming when you have 100 resumes to review. 


With a quick Google search, you can find an endless source of tips and tricks to modify your professional presence. Ultimately, each job opportunity is different and will require some adjustments to position you as the right candidate. Reach out to the Artisan team if you’re looking for ways to improve your resume-building skills or if you’re searching for your next role.

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