5 Tips to get your resume past an Applicant Tracking System

By Courtney Jones










Before your resume reaches human hands, it first must beat the bots—which can prove to be quite tricky (and frustrating) if you’re not wise to their pre-filtering ways. An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) works by scanning resumes for contextual keywords and phrases and mathematically scoring them for relevance, sending only the most qualified for human review. With only about 25% of resumes submitted actually getting past these digital gatekeepers, use these tips to get on a recruiter’s radar and your resume in a hiring manager’s hands.

  1. Keep formatting simple

Robots prefer cold conformity over creativity, so striving to impress with fancy fonts, logos, pictures, symbols, tables and graphics will complicate your resume and confuse the ATS. Keep it simple with no complex layouts. If you’re applying for a creative role, save the colour and flair for your in-person interview.

  1. Use standard headings

An ATS won’t recognize non-standard headings, so when a Job Seeker writes “About me” instead of “Professional summary” or “Accreditations” in place of “Work experience,” the robots will reject your resume because they won’t be able to sort the content appropriately in their database.

  1. Stick to the key words

Resume keywords are the skills and qualifications used in the original job description that should be included in a resume. However, simply using any form of these keywords will not win the robot war. They must be formatted to echo the original job description exactly-- to an ATS, there’s a difference between “Microsoft Word,” “MS Word” and “Word.” When it comes to your job description, a “marketing coordinator” will find his or her way into an interview room with a hiring manager before a “branding ninja” will even be noticed by the resume robots.

  1. Write out acronyms

Even if an acronym is common to the industry like DHTML or EJB, it may not be recognized or categorized correctly by an ATS. To avoid any misunderstandings, always spell out the word first before including the acronym: Dynamic HTML (DHTML) and Enterprise JavaBean (EJB).

  1. Include your postal code

Recruiters use something called a radial search to filter qualified candidates within a specific parameter closest to the job location. To do this, they use your postal code; and if it doesn’t exist, neither does your resume.

All an ATS knows is your past qualifications, and if you want to get your resume noticed by a recruiter or hiring manager for a future opportunity, these tips are the first tactics to use in winning the battle against the bot.

by Courtney Jones

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