Optimizing your resume for ATS is an important part of the modern job searching process. Without paying attention to keywords, formatting, other ATS-friendly elements, qualified candidates can slip through the cracks.
Here are some quick tips on how to beat applicant tracking systems:
1. Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description.
One-size-fits-all resumes do not work well for modern job searches. Customizing your resume for each job gives you the best chance of being identified as a great candidate. Tailor your resume headline to match the role and prioritize your most relevant skills and experience.
Read: How To Tailor Your Resume To the Job Description
2. Match Your Resume Keywords to Skills Found in the Job Description.
Optimize for ATS search and ranking algorithms by paying close attention to the keywords you include on your resume. Keywords are most commonly the hard skills requirements listed in the job description. Include as many relevant skills and keywords as possible on your resume.
Read: Top 500 Resume Keywords: Examples for Your Job
3. Use Long-Form and Acronym Versions of Keywords.
Recruiters and hiring managers may search by keywords when looking for candidates. Some ATS will only return exact keyword match results, which means that if you included the term “Search Engine Optimization” without its acronym counterpart, your profile may not appear in a recruiter’s search for the term “SEO.”
4. Use Chronological or Hybrid Resume Format.
Formats that deemphasize work history, like the functional resume format, don’t work well for applicant tracking systems that count on more traditional reverse chronological formatting to understand an applicant’s experience. Recruiters are also most familiar with chronological and hybrid resume formats.
Read: Don’t Make These ATS Formatting Mistakes
5. Don’t Use Tables or Columns.
Even though tables and columns can improve readability for human readers, they may cause parsing errors in the ATS.
Read: What Happens to Resume Tables and Columns in an ATS? See For Yourself.
6. Use a Screen-Friendly, Traditional Font.
For readability, it’s best to use a traditional serif or sans serif font. Some ATS will automatically change unfamiliar fonts which can alter the design of your resume.
Read: The Best Fonts for Your Resume
7. Don’t Use Headers or Footers.
The information in headers and footers may get lost or cause parsing errors inside and ATS.
8. Use Standard Resume Section Headings.
Section headers like “Where I’ve Been” in place of “Work Experience” may confuse applicant tracking systems, causing them to organize information incorrectly.
Read: Resume Sections: What You Need and Where You Need Them
9. Save Your File as a .docx if Possible
A docx file is most compatible with ATS.