5 Tips to Help Your Resume Pass the Applicant Tracking System

Apr 6, 2023

When job seekers apply to online applications, their resumes are often sent through an applicant tracking system (ATS). This database pulls data from your resume and organizes it so that it is easily searchable. Hiring managers, recruiters, or other company representatives may perform searches for specific skills, keywords within your experience, or other factors. This process helps to narrow down the pool of candidates so that the humans only review the resumes that match their needs for the role.
While helpful for those hiring new employees, the ATS can be frustrating for candidates. This is especially true when their resume is not easily read by the automated system and the candidate must retype their information after uploading their resume! Here we’ve collected our best 5 tips on creating a resume that works well with an ATS.

1. Match Your Keywords

Review the job description and incorporate specific keywords into your resume. If your current resume uses the term “social media platforms” and the job description uses “social media channels,” adapt your resume accordingly. Make sure that your hard skills are included in the resume and identify any soft skills that are required as well.

2. Consider Your Job Title

With a warning to proceed with caution, it is possible to change a previous job title if it reflects experience required in the job description. However, we recommend that instead of changing the entire job title, you simply add to it. For example, instead of changing “Customer Service Representative,” you can just add to it: “Customer Service Representative (Account Manager).” Always be honest about your experience!

3. Include ALL Your Credentials

Don’t forget to include all certifications, licenses, or other credentials you have earned! Even if you completed a free certification program, you should include it on your resume if it taught you applicable new skills.
If you are currently working on a certification program and have not completed it, you can (and should) still add it. Just add the estimated date of completion, and you’ll be able to be included in searches for people with that certification. Once a human is reviewing your resume, they’ll see that you’re not quite finished but well on your way.

4. Use an Appropriate Template

Your resume should be formatted in an ATS-friendly template for best results. There are lots of examples that can be found in a simple Google search! While these formats may seem plain, the automated system will be able to easily read the resulting resume.
Some key factors of an ATS-friendly template include clear sections with headlines, bullet points, and a single-column format. Avoid using symbols, icons, or pictures in your resume. You should also create this version of your resume in a Microsoft Word file. Most ATS automations cannot convert PDF, HTML, or Apple Pages files.

5. Test Your Resume

Before you submit your resume for the job, save a copy as plain text and review the results. If there is any missing or garbled information, the resume will not be parsed accurately into an ATS. You can make edits and try again until you are able to clearly read all sections of your resume.

If you’re unable to convert your resume to plain text, another Google search can lead you to a free ATS resume review. These services can evaluate your resume and let you know if it is missing the mark.

Written by: Alessandra Cespedes & Sarah Perlman

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