Career Advice

How to Beat the Applicant Tracking System with Your Resume

Companies in today’s highly competitive job market often employ software to scan applicants’ résumés for keywords, exclude those who don’t meet minimum requirements and identify those who aren’t a good cultural fit. Due to the widespread usage of applicant tracking systems (ATSs), it is essential to construct résumés that these programs can easily scan.


Here are three easy actions to take to ensure your résumé will be ATS-friendly:


First, research keywords in job postings, then include them in your résumé and research the keywords associated with your desired occupations. With keywords in mind, reading a few job postings may help you determine which ones are most relevant to your field, expertise, and desired role.


The second step is to add relevant keywords to your résumé. Look closely at your job description, paying particular attention to any action verbs, technical abilities, or software prerequisites that are listed. Remember that others will use these popular phrases in their applications. Your accomplishments will distinguish you from other applicants who used the same résumé template. Quantify and measure your achievements from your current and previous jobs to emphasize their importance.

Writing a résumé highlighting your relevant experience and skills and including keywords from the posting’s description is time well spent. Ensure you’re visible to recruiters by using language directly from the job posting. If you’re going to utilize a keyword, use the shortened and the full version.


Third, to succeed with ATS, your résumé must present relevant data in an easy-to-read style provided by a well-designed template. If you utilize a stylish font or typeface on your résumé, the applicant tracking system may become confused and place you in the incorrect pile.

Try to keep your résumé as brief and straightforward as possible. Save it as a Word document or a PDF, depending on their instructions. Automated applicant tracking systems are trained to give more weight to chronological and functional résumés than the combination and reverse chronological formats. Combined or reverse chronological formats are also well-liked by recruiters. Pay attention to any further directions that may be provided. Your chances of passing the ATS and moving on to the subsequent round increase the more carefully you follow their instructions.


When writing an ATS-friend résumé, do NOT:


Try to trick the system by including the job description in its entirety, pasting keywords in a white font, repeating keywords, or adding a section labeled “keywords” where you stick various words from the job description. Any strategies involving copying and pasting keywords in white will be exposed since the ATS will show every word in the same color. Your forwarded application will arrive to a human recruiter, and they will see that you copied and pasted or included a bunch of keywords and will move on to the next applicant as soon as possible. In addition to failing to demonstrate your competence for the position, you have also shown that you are willing to cheat to advance in the workplace.


Never send the same résumé to multiple companies, and don’t apply for several positions at the same organization. This could be interpreted as a lack of confidence in your abilities or interests.


Trust in your abilities; you will succeed! One way to reach your ideal job is to experiment with several résumé formats until you find the one that works best.