Want to Get Your Resume Seen? Know How to Beat the ATS


Because companies can get hundreds of applications for one job, roughly 75% of them have introduced an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to their screening process. An ATS searches resumes for keywords and information, meaning that it can quickly scan a resume for specifics, which can save hiring managers countless hours during the hiring process. If you have a resume full of highly attractive skills and experience, yet find that you aren’t hearing back from employers, it may be that your resume is not ATS-friendly. To ensure that hiring managers are actually seeing your resume, here are four tips for getting past an ATS’s electronic eyes:

Include Relevant Keywords throughout Your Resume

An ATS system will check to see if you have included keywords from the job ad throughout your resume. These keywords can include everything from required skills and experience, to the specific job title, and they should be included within the natural flow of the resume (and cover letter) in full and complete sentences. If you used a skill in multiple positions list the skill in all of those positions so the scanner can get an accurate years of experience with each skill. It’s also worth noting that modern ATS systems can tell when a keyword seems out of place, meaning that you should never just add keywords randomly to your resume. Even if you somehow slip through the ATS process, a hiring manager will eventually read your resume, and they will notice that your keywords are not in context.

Stick to Fonts the System Will Recognize

While there are new fonts being introduced all the time, you want to play it safe and stick to the classics when it comes to your resume. ATS systems best recognize fonts like Arial, Georgia, Tahoma, Times New Roman, Trebuchet, and Verdana, all of which are traditionally used for resumes. Be aware that larger fonts can also confuse the system, meaning that you should stick to 10 or 12 point throughout.

Avoid Graphs, Tables, and Overly Fancy Designs

While you may think that adding a chart, graph, or table to your resume will add some clarity, most Applicant Tracking Systems are not good at reading them. In fact, they tend to read them as stray words or symbols, which can cause the system to automatically reject it. Stick with “standard” resume designs with simple formatting to ensure it is machine readable.

Don’t Get Fancy with Bullet Points or Abbreviations

Bullet points are common in resumes, as they help break up the text to highlight specific key skills and experiences. While you want to use them, you want to avoid using special characters or accents for bullets. The Applicant Training System may have problems reading a special character or accent, so stick to common bullet points that are offered to you on your word processing program. Avoid uncommon abbreviations, and if something is commonly abbreviated list both the full word and the abbreviation. For instance: Certified Public Accountant (CPA).


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