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Beat the system: Creating an ATS-Friendly resume

Updated: Mar 17

With the job market bustling and millions of roles open in various industries, many job seekers are trying to get to an interview. However, before that can happen, your resume has to make it through the gating of an ATS. An ATS (Applicant Tracking System) is software used by many companies to help manage their recruitment process. These systems can scan resumes and job applications, searching for specific keywords and phrases that match the requirements of the job posting. While ATS can help streamline the hiring process, they can also miss some resumes or applications that are submitted by job seekers.

According to a study by Jobscan, up to 98% of resumes are rejected by ATS before they are seen by a human recruiter. The same study found that one of the main reasons resumes are rejected by ATS is because they don't include enough relevant keywords or phrases.

A study by Harvard Business Review revealed that 88 percent of recruiters felt that qualified candidates were ignored by an ATS because they “did not match the exact criteria established by the job description.” This suggests that ATS places too much emphasis on keywords and fails to take into account a candidate’s skills, experience, or qualifications.

These statistics highlight the importance of optimizing your resume for ATS and using relevant keywords and phrases that match the job description. So how do you ensure your resume actually gets seen? You need to create and format your resume to be ATS-friendly.

To create an ATS-friendly resume that will increase your chances of getting noticed by recruiters and hiring managers, here are some tips:

  1. Use relevant keywords and phrases - carefully review the job posting and use the same language and terminology used in the posting to describe your skills, experience, and achievements. The ATS will scan your resume for these keywords and phrases, so make sure to include them in your resume.

  2. Choose a standard font - stick to traditional, easy-to-read fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman, as some ATS systems have difficulty reading more unusual or decorative fonts.

  3. Avoid graphics and images - while a well-designed resume can be visually appealing, graphics and images can confuse or distract the ATS. Stick to a simple, text-based format for your resume.

  4. Include relevant sections - the ATS is looking for specific information in your resume, so make sure to include sections such as your work experience, education, skills, and certifications.

  5. Use bullet points - ATS systems prefer bullet points rather than paragraphs, as they can more easily identify relevant information. Use bullet points to highlight your skills and achievements in your work experience and skills sections.

  6. Save your resume in a compatible format - many ATS systems only accept resumes in specific file formats, such as .docx or .pdf. Check the job posting or company website to ensure you are using the correct format.

  7. Use clear, concise language - avoid using industry jargon or overly complex language. Use simple, direct language to describe your skills, experience, and achievements.

It's also important to follow up on your application and network with recruiters and hiring managers to increase your chances of getting noticed.

By following these tips, you can create an ATS-friendly resume that will help you get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers. Remember to tailor your resume to each job posting, including the keywords and phrases used in the posting, and highlight your relevant skills and experience.


Need support reviewing and fine-tuning your resume so it's optimized for your job search? I can help! From keyword enhancements to LinkedIn profile overhauls, we can get you ready to apply and get your dream job. Always happy to do a complimentary discovery call to get to know you and what your career goals are. Happy career navigating!

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