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    ATS-Friendly Graphic Resumes & the TORI Resume Writing Awards (Winner Q&A)

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    ATS-Friendly Graphic Resumes & the TORI Resume Writing Awards Is there such a thing as an ATS-friendly graphic resume or should you be creating a second version for your clients so that they have both angles covered in their job search? TORI resume writing award winners were the perfect individuals to share thoughts on this topic since, up until this year, the competition had become more and more heavily entrenched in high design.

    So we reached out to former TORI winners and 12 shared their thoughts for this Q&A lesson on:

    Do you create TORI resumes for your clients that are ATS-friendly graphic resumes, and if not do you create secondary versions, charge more for this, or get pushback?

    Meet the respondents:

    Laura Smith-Proulx

    Laura Smith-Proulx

    Tiffany Hardy

    Marlene Cole
    New Generation Careers

    Marie Plett

    Marie Plett

    Cheryl Lynch Simpson

    Cheryl Lynch Simpson

    Lucie Yeomans

    Lucie Yeomans
    Your Career Ally

    Melanie L. Denny

    Melanie L. Denny


    Rachel (Vander Pol) Raymond Headshot

    Rachel Raymond

    Angela Watts

    Gayle Howard

    Gayle Howard

    TORI Award Winners Answer Your Resume Writing Competition Question:

    ATS: If your TORI resumes are not ATS-friendly, do you provide your clients with a second version? Do you get pushback on this or the cost?

    Each of my TORI winning-resumes were for clients who had a very strategic and targeted job search focus. They were not going through an ATS. If they decided later to change the targeted role, I adapted the resume to suit the application process with removal of text boxes/photos/shapes.– Marlene Cole

    I try to make the original as ATS-friendly as possible. In some cases, I do create the ATS version at no charge. It is not that work intensive and I believe that it’s a value-added benefit for the client.– Marla Emery, ACRW, ACC

    In the past, I created two versions of every resume for my clients: an attractive presentation version (generally not ATS-friendly) and a minimally designed ATS-compliant version. Over time, I realized that many clients didn’t use the ATS documents. They were simply uploading the presentation documents to websites, inadvertently ruling themselves out for jobs.

    These days, I discuss ATS with every client (and potential client) who comes my way, including top executives. It’s that essential. And with just a few exceptions, I provide everyone with a single resume that is both attractive and ATS-friendly. This seems to be a better approach for everyone—it challenges me to create captivating resumes that align with ATS standards, and it ensures the client has everything s/he needs for a successful job search.

    I mentioned that there are a few exceptions to my single-resume approach. These exceptions are: clients who are not planning to use the resume for job searching (they might be submitting the document as part of a business plan, for example), and clients who specifically request more dynamic designs that absolutely cannot be made into ATS-compliant presentations. For the latter, I create an ATS-friendly version of the final resume and teach my clients how and when to use this document.– Anonymous

    I have begun recently to ensure that all of my graphic resumes are 100% ATS friendly. I previously offered ATS-friendly second versions at no cost. I still offer second versions if they request it though. This can be helpful for my clients if they need to apply for a job quickly and want to be able to tailor their resume in a few minutes. Sometimes the more graphic versions can require a bit more work to tailor.– Tiffany Hardy, MS, CERM, NCOPE, ACRW

    I’ll definitely provide a second version if needed, although my clients are VERY happy with the graphics added to their resumes. I often explain that an Applicant Tracking Software system expects data in specific places, so if I’ve created a unique name for achievements (such as Career Highs: Results Outpacing Industry Competitors), it should be renamed so it’s recognized as a list of career wins – and not ignored when reviewed by resume scanners. No one questions it if I recommend a slightly modified version.– Laura Smith-Proulx, CPRW, CCMC, NCOPE

    I strive to make my resumes ATS-friendly and visually interesting; I incorporate important information in the body of the resume if it appears in graphics.– Lucie Yeomans, CGRA, CPRW, NCOPE, CEIC, OPNS, JCTC, JCDC

    If I know the client’s primary strategy is the online application process, I definitely stay in line with ATS standards, but the documents are still beautiful. I have learned several tricks to creating a gorgeous document that will still parse nicely through the ATS. But, I want to make sure clients can make tweaks without interfering with some hidden secret I did within their document. If I know the job search will be primarily networking, I am more free with the use of graphical designs.– Melanie L. Denny, MBA, NCOPE, CPRW

    I make sure that all of my client resumes are ATS-friendly and educate them on why this is important. I don’t focus as much on ATS issues in my TORI submissions since I know the document will not be used that way, though I do make sure that each submission could be used in an ATS if needed with minor formatting changes. I provide an ASCII text resume with each client order.– Cheryl Lynch Simpson, CMRW, ACRW

    My resume designs are based on client needs. Some of my top executive clients strictly need networking resumes, but most of my resumes are ATS-friendly. I almost never create multiple versions, since graphically stunning resumes can be ATS-friendly.– Marie Plett, CERM, CPRW, BFA

    It depends on the client. I work mainly with senior-level executives where their job searches aren’t focused online or through web-based applications. Rather, their searches are focused on networking or through executive searches, in which case an ATS resume isn’t always necessary. However, if an executive wants one, I will provide one free of charge. If I work with a lower-level client, I tend to make the resume ATS-friendly anyway. When I submit resumes to the TORIs, any thought of ATS-friendly goes out the window.– Rachel Raymond, CERM, CCST, ACRW, NCOPE

    Every resume I produce is ATS-friendly. I provide a .txt version for free, however, recommend that they upload the primary resume in all its glory. If you learn how to make designs that will scan well, there really is no need for a second version.– Angela Watts, SHRM-CP, RACR, CCTC

    I do provide an ATS friendly version in a higher end package. No pushback ever.– Gayle Howard, CMRW, CERM, CGRA, CARW, CRS+IT, CWPP, CPBS, CG3C, CTTC, CCCM, MCD, CONS

    Do the New 2021 Classic Design Categories Shift This Dynamic? What Does This Tell Us About Graphic Resumes & ATS?

    Our answer is that classic design categories really remove this concern. If you opt to only enter classic design categories then we would assume you would be opting to make them an all-in-one ATS document! While that won’t be required in the competition, it’s what we would expect from that one-size-fits-all-application-options document.

    Outside of classic design categories, I found this exciting and fascinating as a reminder that graphic resumes no longer mean non-ATS compatible. It IS possible to create designs that are visually stunning yet ATS compliant. Marie Plett’s two training presentations (free to CDI members; see links below) truly set the stage for this reality.

    The TORIs Are the #1 Highest ROI, Lowest Cost Way to Grow Your Resume Business

    There’s no denying the success that former TORI winners and nominees have attained by participating in this annual resume writing competition.

    Whether you want to be easily found by job seekers, stand out from the competition, or attain accolades that put you in demand, the TORI awards have done that for resume writers around the globe since 2000.

    Remember, those new classic design categories create opportunity for any talented, professional resume writer.

    Don’t wait! Registrations are accepted until Friday, July 16, 2021.

    Learn More About the TORI Awards

    Learn about the competition & new classic resume categories >>

    Additional Resources

    Access video tutorial & lessons on resume writing >>

    Graphic Resume Design and ATS with Marie Plett (Q&A Video Lesson) >>

    How to Design ATS-Friendly Graphic Resumes with Marie Plett (Video Master Class) >>

    Not yet a CDI member? Check out these free lessons >>


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