Can Applicant Tracking Systems Read PDF Files?

Matt Glodz
Can Applicant Tracking Systems Read PDF Files?

How to Make Sure an ATS Will Read Your PDF Correctly

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are software tools that are used by many companies to manage and streamline their recruitment processes.

One of the main functions of an ATS is to scan and read job application materials, such as resumes and cover letters, to identify candidates who are a good fit for the position.

This raises the question of whether ATS systems can read PDF files, which are a common format for job application documents.

The short answer is that most ATS systems are able to read and parse PDF files. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when using PDFs in your job application materials.

1. Ensure Proper Formatting

It's important to ensure that your PDF documents are properly formatted and easy to read.

This means using a clear and consistent layout, using headings and bullet points to break up the text, and avoiding graphics or other elements that may be difficult for the ATS to interpret.

2. Avoid Scans or Images

Be aware that some ATS systems may have trouble reading certain types of PDFs, such as those that are scanned or contain a lot of images.

In these cases, it may be more effective to use a different file format, such as a Word document or a plain text file.

3. Optimize Your Content

It's worth noting that while most ATS systems can read PDFs, they may not be able to extract all of the information contained in the document.

This means that you should still make an effort to optimize your job application materials for ATS systems by including relevant keywords and phrases, and using clear and concise language.

In Summary

While most ATS systems can read PDF files, it's important to make sure that your documents are properly formatted and optimized for ATS systems.

This will help increase the chances that your job application materials will be effectively read and parsed by the ATS and that you will be considered for the position.

About Resume Pilots

Resume Pilots is an award-winning executive resume writing firm and a proud member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. Our previous clients include CEOs and senior executives at the world's leading companies.

As a professional services firm, we take your reputation seriously. We are committed to delivering writing excellence and superior service while operating with integrity and discretion. Recruitment firms we partner with also trust us to consistently deliver quality documents for their clients.

Our writers have studied in the Ivy League and other top-tier universities and have strong writing backgrounds coupled with industry experience.

Here's how we can help you:

Resume, Cover Letter, and LinkedIn Writing Services: If you are looking for end-to-end support, hire one of our professional resume writers to rewrite your documents from the ground up.

Executive Resume Template Downloads: If you plan to prepare your own resume, consider using one of our classic, ATS-friendly resume templates for Microsoft Word.

To learn more about our services, book an introductory call with our founder here or email

About the AuthorMatt Glodz

Matt Glodz is the Founder and Managing Partner of Resume Pilots and a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

After studying business communication at Cornell University, Matt worked within Fortune 500 companies, where he noted that qualified candidates were frequently denied interview opportunities due to poorly written documents.

At Resume Pilots, Matt combines his business and writing background - which includes prior work for a Chicago Tribune publication - to craft resumes that give his clients the best chance of landing interviews. He works with clients ranging from CEOs to recent graduates and has been writing resumes for over 10 years.

He has been quoted on numerous business and career-related topics in outlets including Business Insider, CNBC, Fortune, Glassdoor, The Ladders, and Thrive Global.

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