In today’s era of the online application, you might feel intimidated by the idea of your resume being submitted to an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). However, once you understand that a large component of an ATS is to simply scans your resume for certain keywords, you can add those keywords to your resume and rest easy. Here are four simple tips that can help you use keywords to get past the bots.
Use the exact words from the job description on your resume.
When an ATS scans your resume, it will be searching for specific skills designated by the employer—and the best way to know what those skills are is to look at the job description. In a job description, there is often a section called “basic requirements” or “desired skills.” Tailoring your resume to include these terms is an easy way to get on the ATS’s good side.
Include both the acronyms and spelled-out versions of key terms.
One of the trickier aspects of an ATS is that you don’t know exactly what keywords it is searching for; for instance, your resume may include the term “search engine optimization,” but if the ATS is looking for “SEO,” it might pass you over. You can avoid this potential pitfall by spelling out the term and including the industry’s common acronym for the term as well. An example of this would be writing “Worked for two years in search engine optimization (SEO).”
Focus on your hard skills.
Although employers will want you to have certain soft skills, such as the abilities to work in a team or multitask, these are probably not what the ATS is looking for. Instead, the bot is likely searching for hard skills, such as “marketing,” or programs, such as “Excel.” Therefore, when it comes to writing your resume, prioritize naming your hard skills; you can always talk about your soft skills later in your cover letter and at your interview.
Check your spelling!
Besides looking generally unprofessional, spelling mistakes can cause an ATS to pass you by because misspelled keywords will not be recognized. Therefore, make sure to proofread your resume for spelling errors before submitting it online.