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Best Practices for Working With Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

When applying for online positions its advisable to upload your resume in ATS format. This reduces the chances of your resume being complicated by Applicant Tracking Systems. At Total Resumes we suggest that you have 2 versions of your resumes: 1 in ATS format for online applications and 1 more visually appealing version to provide to employers/recruiters at interviews.

  • When applying for a specific position, include that job title on the résumé.
  • Use the descriptors “phone:” and “email:” in front of the phone number and email address so the ATS can identify this information.
  • When listing dates for employment or education, put the dates to the right of the information or on a separate line.
  • Include section headers to make it easy for the applicant tracking system to categorize the information.
  • If you are working towards a degree or certification that is a requirement for the position, include it on the résumé — but make sure you include a phrase such as “Pursuing (name of credential)” or “Degree anticipated (date).”
  • Do not include skills you don’t possess on the résumé as an attempt to “trick” the applicant tracking system into selecting you. (Remember, the résumé will eventually be reviewed by a human.)
  • Check your email after applying for a position online. Some applicant tracking systems acknowledge submissions, but because these are automated responses, it may be diverted to your spam folder.
  • Be mindful of special characters and accents you use on your résumé. Some words and phrases can be misinterpreted by an applicant tracking system — for example, accented words. The word “résumé” itself is not ATS-friendly. The ATS does not recognize the accented letters. Instead, it reads it as “r?sum?.”
  • Do not list your credentials (MBA, CPA, etc.) next to your name. Include that information on a separate line.
  • Do not mix different fonts and sizes in your résumé.
  • Do not submit multiple résumés to the same company. Applicant tracking systems have a memory — all those previous submissions remain in the system. You can apply to multiple, related positions, but make sure the résumé information is consistent (i.e., the number of years in a particular job, for example), because the hiring manager will have access to the other versions too.

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Author Carolyn Whitfield

6X TORI-Winning, Multi-Certified Resume Master & Coach ★ 12+ Yrs Expertise ★ 98% Client Interview-Winning Success Rate. As an executive resume expert who has carved a strong reputation in the resume industry, I’ve helped thousands of rising stars and executives worldwide ascend to the next step on the career ladder.

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