Many job postings require a job application to be filled out in addition to sending a resume. These job applications are done online on various webapps. Several of these webapps have a limited ability to import from a traditional resume but it's not perfect. Much of the application process is simply re-entering what was already on the traditional resume or VC.

Are there any resume formats which are known to be more compatible with automatic imports?

Have any of the major HR software vendors published a specification for how to format a resume for easier import into their tools?

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    Are you expect answers related only for USA? Jan 7, 2020 at 13:53
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    @RomeoNinov any answer is welcome.
    – Freiheit
    Jan 7, 2020 at 13:54
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    @Freiheit google "ATS Friendly Resume Templates" Jan 7, 2020 at 14:01
  • I keep a formatted version and a non formatted plain text version. When you can't upload a pdf, I copy and paste the plain text version
    – Gamora
    Jan 7, 2020 at 14:31

3 Answers 3


One format I am aware of is Europass. I saw imports of CV from this format (DOC/DOCX) in list of companies (which are or have offices in Europe). And this format can be sometime very convenient because you have the option to export the information in DOC/DOCX, PDF, ODF and XML.

Also AFAIK LinkedIn support import from this format (not sure about other job boards).


Frame challenge: should you?

A CV should stand out (not stick out). It has to look good to a human reader, ideally a bit nicer than the other CVs in the same pile. Ideally, you'd tweak it to better match the specific position you're applying for. This is at odds with trying to make it as easy possible for you to input it in forms.

It might make more sense to store your information in a plain text file from which you can easily copy-paste it into forms. A minimum of layout makes it easier to avoid weird glitches when copy-pasting.

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    I shouldn't HAVE TO because when applying for professional positions I'd expect everyone from the HR screener to the hiring managers to the the team leads and up to the CEO to take 2 minutes and skim a resume for a professional posting. For entry level positions the job application can be filled out without a resume. However, the reality is that modern job postings expect you to have both a resume and to fill out their job application form. Right or wrong, it's the current reality.
    – Freiheit
    Jan 7, 2020 at 14:14
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    Truth is most organizations use automated buzzword-filters in their pool of 1000's CVs, so that the human HR automatons can focus on the 50-100 that are relevant. If a CV doesn't make it through the filter due to file format issues (that would not stop a human) it will sit on a "manual review" pile. Guess how often those manual reviews happen?
    – rath
    Jan 7, 2020 at 15:16
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    @rath makes a good point: a CV has two audiences, the automatic filter and the humans who look at it if it passes the filter. Although if you also have to fill in all that info in a web app, that's probably what they use for the initial filtering. At any rate, don't get stuck on "what they should do". Be pragmatic.
    – ObscureOwl
    Jan 7, 2020 at 15:40
  • @Freiheit If a company can afford to use Automatic Resume/CV importers and Keyword filters they can afford to skip those who don't put in the effort. Worse case for them is that they manually trawl through those who didn't put in any effort if they can't find a suitable candidate. You need to put in the extra effort if you want to be seen. Alternatively, contact a recruiter to do the work for you.
    – Shadowzee
    Jan 8, 2020 at 1:12

Not specific to HR software especially ATS (Application Tracking Software)

Format of a CV would definitely be interesting for general import by machine. Try to make it plain as possible so that machine can read those CV effectively. As more people gets interested in job, companies will certainly take some help from machine's recommendation. As CV format online is mostly for traditional use, its better to update future CV for machine's use. Some tips

  1. Make sure you have proper headers like summary, experience, education, skills, certification etc.
  2. Use uppercase or bold to distinct headers from rest of text.
  3. Separate headers, paragraph with good spacing, newline.
  4. Avoid using columns, unless its a picture, its harder to read. columns and different topic on same row with multiple column adds no value.
  5. Proper usage of commas and full stops.
  6. Try to have similar pattern inside headers like {university},{location},{degree},{date} can span on multiple lines but having similar pattern is really helpful.
  7. If you were to use table, use it with proper headers but best avoid it, try to make CV simple and linear as possible.

Bonus: Stop being creative in CV, keep it plain simple.

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