3 Tips for Writing an ATS-Friendly Resume
When you’re applying to a job you found on a job board, more often than not, your resume is fed through an ATS. If you’re not familiar, an ATS (applicant tracking system) is a software system that organizes the hiring process, but it can screen candidates based on qualifications set up by the recruiter. So, to actually hear back about a position you applied for, you need to write a resume that will make it past the system’s screening process and into the hands of an actual human.
This way of screening candidates has become increasingly popular, too. Ninety-five percent of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS to cull candidates. And studies have shown that 75% of resumes never make it to an actual human. However, understand this is the first step to actually getting your resume to a recruiter. So, next time you apply through an ATS, or any time you don’t email it directly to someone, keep these tips in mind.
- Make it Readable
Keep your resume template and font simple. Fancy graphics and pretty fonts won’t win an ATS over, and then it won’t be seen by a person who may actually appreciate it. Instead, use a traditional font (think: Times New Roman, Arial, etc.) and a standard template. Remember, a computer is “reading” it and while they’ve obviously come a long way over the years, it’s still a software system.
While it may be tempting to have sidebars and things of the like, go with a standard template that lists your personal information, work experience, education and skills in a readable way. Use bullets to describe the work you’ve completed in different positions and ensure it reads chronologically. That saying “keep it simple, stupid” definitely applies here.
- Use Keywords
Applicant tracking systems use an algorithm to pull out specific words and phrases that the recruiter deems necessary. If it’s an accounting job, they could want to see that you’re a C.P.A, so having that after your name will be a plus. Or if it’s a project manager position, they may want to see that as a previous job title or phrases like “managed a team/project of X people to complete X task”.
Look at the job description and pull out the words and phrases that are repeated for a clue into what the company may be using as keywords. Then insert them on your resume where appropriate. This is also why it’s important to tweak your resume for each job you apply to. Simply reading through the job description a second time to hone in on a few keywords that you then use on your resume could make all of the difference.
Additionally, ATS’s can be programmed to see how many times a word or phrase appears and where. While you won’t want to overdo it and use ‘managed’ 8 times in one section, strategically placing it through your resume in different sections is a safe bet.
- Use the Right File Type
Take note as to what files the ATS you’re applying through accepts. This will typically be right below the upload button, but it’s important to keep in mind when you’re creating your resume. PDF files are usually accepted, but not always. It is a safe bet that Microsoft Word files will be compatible, so create your resume in Word and then save different file types as needed.
Applying for jobs and never hearing back can take its toll on your confidence, but knowing who, or what, is reading your resume can help secure that first interview and ultimately, that job you’ve been searching for.