Are you submitting your resume to online job postings, but not getting contacted for interviews—even if you’re a perfect fit for the role? An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is potentially filtering out your resume even before it is in the hands of a recruiter.
Since applicant tracking systems are now used by many recruiters as the first step to find a qualified candidate for their open position, it is undoubtedly necessary that you create a resume that is compliant to what these systems are looking for. While we ultimately want a human to see your resume, you first have to ‘beat the bots.’
Formatting and targeting your resume to be ATS-compliant isn’t as difficult as it sounds. You just have to know the tips and tricks to make sure you’re getting past the algorithms and into human hands. The challenge here is that an ATS-friendly resume needs simple formatting but human eyes are attracted to documents that are aesthetically appealing.
Here are a few formatting tips to make sure your resume is ATS-friendly.
- Use a .doc file format instead of .pdf or .docx
- Put your name in the file name of the resume
- Give your resume a relevant title in the profile section
- Avoid using headers and footers. Instead, put contact information in the body of the resume
- Ensure your resume has the keywords relevant to the job you’re applying for
- Use bullet points and avoid using text boxes, tables, graphics or charts
- List work history in reverse chronological order (starting with most current position)
- Have clear section headings, such as Core Competencies, Professional Experience, and Education
- Include both hard and soft skills in your resumes
Along with good formatting, you will also need to incorporate some strategies that will give your resume a competitive edge over other candidates. Some of these strategies are:
- Be smart:
Since 95% of Fortune 500 companies use an applicant tracking system, you have to be vigilant on how to get past this gatekeeper to grab your dream job. Organically inserting keywords, applying for jobs you’re qualified for, and targeting your resume for each position you’re applying for will help you get past the machines. Dedicate time to pen your experience carefully, so that it is still applicable and compelling to the hiring manager.
- Focus on main body and length of the resume:
Many systems are designed to capture information from the body of the text. So, ensure you use this real estate to your advantage. Populate it with relevant keywords and taglines that you want to highlight to the recruiter. Additionally, ATS are often not sensitive to the length of the resume, so go ahead and use multiple pages you need to convey your work history and experience.
- Be specific:
It is of utmost importance to always remember that your resume’s primary function is to assist the hiring manager to ascertain that your qualifications are a good fit for the job opening. That said, avoid being generic or using a cookie cutter template for your resume. Be as specific as possible and try to relate the needs of the job to your work experience.
- Have a Design Resume at the Ready:
Just because you want to get past the ‘bots’ doesn’t mean your resume has to have no personality. Working with a professional resume writer can help you create an ATS resume that is still really beautiful. However, if you do want to showcase your experience in more creative ways, you are still able to do that. You’ll just need to have two resumes – one that’s ATS-compliant and another that impresses the human eye. If you’re not sure where to start with creating a design resume, a professional resume writer can most definitely help you.
With a few tweaks and utilising these few tips, you’ll feel confident as you apply to jobs online. You’ll likely notice more calls for interviews and maybe even a sense of pride in knowing that you’ve ‘beat the system.’