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Why You Should Remove Graphics and Icons From Your Resume

There’s a trend in resumes to ignore functionality for the sake of aesthetics. This is evident in the number of resume templates and resume builders that offer elaborate resume designs that may look attractive to the eye but are actually hurting your job prospects.

The main purpose of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS for short) is to scan the text of your resume and try to organize it into a standard template that is displayed to a recruiter or hiring manager in an HR software dashboard so they can manage hundreds if not thousands of resumes. The problem with all of those graphics and icons is that the ATS doesn’t understand them or know what to do with them. With the main purpose of an ATS in mind, ask yourself, do graphics and icons help tell the ATS I am a qualified candidate for a particular job?

The more graphics and icons a resume contains the harder it is for an ATS to know what to do with them. For example, putting your name in an elaborate font with a specially designed box around it may lead to an ATS not even being able to recognize your name. Imagine, your name may get scrubbed from your resume if the ATS can’t get past the fancy graphics!

Another example has to do with contact information. Ever seen a mailbox icon next to an email address or a phone icon next to the phone number on a resume?

The ATS doesn’t know what those are. The ATS ends up scrubbing those icons from your resume. You don’t want anything anywhere near your contact information getting scrubbed from your resume.

The exception to these rules of avoiding graphics and special designs on your resume is when you are either providing a printed version of your resume or emailing it directly to a recruiter or hiring manager at their request. In these cases, you know a human is looking at your resume and not an ATS and they’ll understand the extra design elements. Even in these instances though does a line graph next to skills really reveal anything about your experience with a skill?

Instead, weave important skills into your work history so a recruiter, hiring manager, and a computer (ATS) can see how you have used those skills and for how long.

In short, skip the fancy graphics and designer resume templates anytime you are applying to a job online and you’ll give your resume and job prospects a significant boost.

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