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Looking for a Job in Trinidad? Make Sure Your Resume is Formatted Properly

So you’re out looking for a job in Trinidad, or jobs in Jamaica, or anywhere in the Caribbean for that matter, you need to be aware it is becoming more and more important to ensure your resume is properly formatted. We’re not talking about fancy colours or fonts or making sure the photo is taken on your best side, we’re talking about formatting to make sure your resume can be automatically scanned and read by a computer.

The harsh reality of today’s recruiters and HR managers in the Caribbean are the tools they use to filter through so many resumes to pick the best ones to look at. You need to understand what an ATS is and how to make sure your resume gets through the first ATS screening.

Table of Contents

  1. What’s an ATS?
  2. How Does an ATS work?
  3. Formatting your Resume for an ATS
  4. Spell Out Abbreviations
  5. Cater the Content to Your Experience
  6. Use a Standard Resume Layout
  7. Tailor Your Resume Template for Each Position
  8. Summary

1. What’s an ATS?

The abbreviation ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System. Typically, it is a software application used by companies and recruiting agencies to scan and sort through resumes they receive for posted job positions. Sometimes, it’s accessed online but there’s also free, open-source software as well.

2. How Does an ATS Work?

Essentially, the program scans and filters resumes based upon given criteria to the program. Criteria might include specific keywords, skills, names of former employers, years of experience in a particular field, as well as schools attended. In this manner, formatting your resume becomes similar to formatting a blog post or product description for SEO (search engine optimization). The use of this system has evolved into resume optimization techniques.

3. Formatting

How you format your resume and the words you include will depend upon qualifications named in the job posting itself. If the job posting mentions Access, Excel and Quickbooks familiarity and knowledge, then you’ll want to include those skills somewhere in your resume, because it’s likely their ATS is going to be looking for those keywords.

Your resume should be formatted as a Microsoft Word document. Some opine that you should really use PDF for resumes at the professional level, but many programs have trouble reading them, and if the company’s software can’t read your submission, you can be sure your application is going to the bottom of the pile. Word format is your best bet.

4. Spell Out Abbreviations

Even if it seems redundant or odd, spell out abbreviations, because in some cases the software may be looking for the entire word instead of the abbreviation. For example, instead of writing “RN”, write Registered Nurse. Same thing with Asst. Principal or CPA – write Assistant Principal and Certified Public Accountant instead.


5. Cater the Content to Your Experience

If you’re applying for an accounting or marketing job, for instance, don’t include two pages of your work experience as an elementary teacher for ten years. In general, if it’s not relevant to the position, don’t include it. At the very least, it may be helpful to work with a recruiter so that you can tailor your work experience towards a job that you might want. For instance, a former teacher’s resume that’s being used to apply for an administrative assistant job might include information about data entry responsibilities, report generating and writing, or organizational skills.

6. Use a Standard Resume Layout

While using headers, bold text and italics are encouraged, make sure it’s free of images, charts, graphs or tables. Your resume and summary should be concise and clean-looking instead of cluttered with visual images. Creating your resume format so that it lists your education and work history in reverse chronological order is preferential to most tracking and scanning software. It allows you to expand on specific skills, use appropriate keywords, and write out full names of former employers and schools you’ve attended.

7. Tailor Your Resume Template For Each Position

It sounds tedious, but it’s beneficial to you if you can tailor your resume format based on each position you’re applying for. Each job posting will have different keywords, slightly different requirements and work experience. If you adjust language and skills for each position you apply for, the more likely it is that your submission will pass successfully through an applicant tracking system.

8. Summary

Don’t let your Trinidad job search or Jamaica job search go to waste on a poorly formatted resume the company’s ATS system cannot read. Spend a day or two ahead of time to format your resume perfectly and ensure you get past the systems initial screening.

Don’t want to start building your ATS resume from scratch? Save yourself some time and effort and check out these ATS ready Resume and Cover Letter templates from These templates were custom created by an industry leading human resource expert and designed for ease of editing and includes sample text to help prompt you when building your resume or cover letter.


Cover Letter, How to, Job Search, Resume Writing

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