Optimize Your Resume for ATS Success

Oct 17, 2023

In today's competitive job market, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) play an important role in the hiring process. Employers use ATS to manage job postings, collect and screen resumes, and organize candidate data. These technology-driven tools help employers manage and filter through a vast pool of applicants.

To succeed as a job seeker, it’s critical that you understand how to work with these systems. If you have applied online to a job posting, chances are you have already directly encountered an ATS. In fact, 99 percent of Fortune 500 company employers are using ATS, and more small and medium size businesses are starting to use these systems in their hiring processes, too. Sometimes, employers put their own company branding on the ATS experience that candidates see, so it might not be obvious what ATS is collecting your data. You can typically see the ATS company name within the URL structure of the job application submission pages and whenever you may be called upon to create a new account. Some top ATS companies include Workday, Oracle Taleo, Greenhouse, ICIMS, and Breezy HR

The formatting of your resume can make a big difference in whether an ATS can read and evaluate your application properly. Here are seven tips for making your resume more readable to Applicant Tracking Systems:

  1. Write your resume in a clear, universal font. Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, Garamond, Helvetica, Palatino,Tahoma and Verdana are all examples of easily read choices.
  2. Build your resume in a single column format and avoid using headers and footers. Two or more columns can confuse AI readers when scanning your page, and some systems skip over content buried in headers or footers of documents.  
  3. Use standard section headers like Education, Professional Experience, and Skills that ATS programs are trained to locate and categorize.
  4. Utilize regular bullet points when detailing your experiences. Ornate graphics, special characters and symbols may be misread.
  5. Include relevant keywords and skills that align with the jobs you are seeking, and spell out all acronyms and industry terms.
  6. Spell check and proofread your resume before submitting to eliminate spelling and grammatical errors. ATS systems may penalize resumes with mistakes.
  7. Save your finished resume in a standard file format like PDF (Portable Document Format) to ensure formatting and layout are preserved and easily read.

Applicant Tracking Systems have become an indispensable tool in modern recruitment for employers. Understanding how these systems work and optimizing your resume to work with them can greatly improve your chances of getting noticed by potential employers.


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