How To Get Your Resume Past The ATS

As technology advances, so does it’s interruption into the hiring process. While several decades ago a hiring manager had to sort sometimes hundreds of resumes by hand, that’s no longer the case.

 

What is an ATS (Applicant Tracking System)?

When applying to a position that receives lots of resumes, many employers now use applicant tracking software (ATS) to screen out the initial resumes that don’t fit the requirements. Companies with fewer than 50 workers are much less likely to use such a system.

 

These ATS screens out or reject an estimated 70-75% of all resumes submitted, either because the documents don’t reflect the desired qualifications or are formatted in a way that is incompatible with the system. Getting past the ATS hurdle can seem overwhelming, but there can be advantages for job seekers as well as disadvantages.

 

Make Sure Your Resume Is Traditionally Formatted

Avoid anything exciting when it comes to formatting your resume. Use a traditional and standard resume format so that the ATS can read your resume properly. Stick with the traditional chronological, functional, or hybrid resume format. Choose the correct and obvious headers for each section so the ATS understands what it’s looking at.

Make sure to avoid putting important details like your contact information in either the header or the footer of the resume, as those can sometimes be cut off.

 

Avoid Fancy Designs And Images

Remember how exciting formats of resumes mess with the ATS? So do fancy designs and images. This is an extremely common mistake. Avoid the use of fancy colors and design unless you’re actually applying for a designer position.  Choose a professional font, like Georgia, Helvetica, or Times New Roman. The ATS needs to be able to read what you’ve sent. Less is more.

 

Send The Correct File Format

Although some systems are getting more sophisticated, the standard still require resumes to be submitted in a Microsoft Word Document or in a .PDF. Avoid sending anything else unless you’re certain that the company’s ATS is able to read it.  You should always check the job description to see if there are any instructions.

 

Use Relevant Keywords

The ATS is designed to reject applicants who don’t have any experience, so make sure to advertise yours. Make sure to use words used specifically in your industry, but don’t go overboard. If it doesn’t make sense to a person reading it, then you’ll just be rejected later on, instead of not at all.

 

Spellcheck & Spell It Out

Besides making sure that spellcheck isn’t replacing words you don’t intend, it’s also important to spell out any acronyms at least once. For example: Registered Nurse (RN). This way you’ll ensure that your resume will still be accepted, even if the ATS is looking for that particular word and doesn’t understand the acronym.

 

Utilize Your File Name

This one feels obvious to hiring managers, but it isn’t to the people applying. Don’t save your resume as:

Example: Resume.Doc

because the hiring manager will receive a ton of those and you’ll get lost in the shuffle. Include your first and last name, AND the word “resume”.

Example: Jane.Doe.Resume.Doc

Eventually a person will be scanning what the ATS spits out as acceptable, and then probably searching a database in the system if there’s any interest. If your resume is under something generic like “resume”, they’ll never be able to find you. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you!

 

Work That Job Title

This tip only applies to those who are already in the field they’re looking to stay employed in. If possible, include the job title on your resume that can be as close as possible to the position you’re applying for. For example, if you’re experienced in what you do, such as a business development and you’re applying for a senior business position, writing “Senior Business Development” will get you further through the ATS scan than leaving the word “senior” out.

 

Check Before Applying

Online you can find sites that compare your resume to the job description and get the feedback you need. Sure, it’s feedback from a computer, but that’s the feedback you need to get your resume to a human! With the growing number of companies using ATS software, it’s vital that your resume stands out! Following these tips will help your resume get past the filters and onto the desk of the hiring manager!

Need to double-check? Check out these Top Resume Mistakes That Could Cost You the Job

Wait, do you need a cover letter? How to Write a Cover Letter

Is your resume amazing? Be sure to read How To Make an Amazing First Impression at Your Interview

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