What is an ATS-Friendly Resume

Using the correct keywords and formatting can help you create the ATS-friendly resume that will help you land your dream job.

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What is an ATS-friendly resume?

If you’re in the market for a new job, chances are you have or are considering updating your resume. It’s the most critical component of getting that first interview, and in today’s world, it’s easier than ever for your resume to get lost in a sea of competition. The problem is, unless your resume is formatted correctly, it may not even be seen by a human eye because it’s been filtered out by an applicant tracking system (ATS).

Some studies have shown that ATS systems reject up to 75% of resumes. That’s why it’s critical to ensure you have an ATS-friendly resume with the correct formatting and keywords to get past this first step.

The good news is that you have multiple resources to make sure your resume has the appropriate ATS /format. From automated tools that will scan your resume and crank out recommendations to companies with on-hand experts, there’s no shortage of help out there.

Let’s take a look at how an ATS works and the tools you can use to best format your resume to get past the ATS system and on to your first interview.

What is an ATS System?

An applicant tracking system, or ATS, is software companies use to sort through resumes quickly and identify candidates with the right skills and experience. These systems scan resumes and then provide rankings to help recruiters quickly find the top candidates.

ATS systems are used across all types of companies but are especially prevalent in large Fortune 500 companies. Up to 99% of these companies use an ATS software of some kind.

How do applicant tracking systems work?

An applicant tracking system is looking for keywords and other elements of a resume to identify qualified applicants. It depends entirely on the recruiting manager to what level the applicant tracking system will be used. It may be that they do look at every resume in some capacity if the number of applicants is limited.

But if you have many applicants, the ATS will likely be employed to scan for specific keywords. If you haven’t done the work to ensure your resume has relevant keywords for a particular job, your resume can quickly end up in the trash bin, even if you are highly qualified.

How to write an ATS-friendly resume?

Writing an ATS-friendly resume doesn’t need to be complicated. It’s essential to keep things straightforward when creating your resume. Make sure you have consistent formatting across all of your work history, educational background, and dates.

Sometimes getting creative can work against you because it makes it more difficult for the ATS to find the keywords you want to highlight. Because of that, avoid tables and other visuals that don’t include simple text where possible.

Lastly, you’ll also want to use a Microsoft Word or PDF document as these are the two most common formats used by an ATS.

Where to find ATS-friendly resume templates?

While you can find ATS-friendly resume templates at most companies that write or have resume writing software, not all are created equal. You will want to look for a company like Jobscan with templates and a system that scans the document as an ATS would. You can use Jobscan to compare your resume against a specific job posting to see improvements you can make. This is about as specific as you can get when tailoring your resume to get through an ATS for a particular job.

The Bottom Line

If you’re going to spend time revamping your resume, then it’s worth the while to make it ATS-friendly. There are too many companies these days filtering resumes using these systems before a person even takes a look.

At a bare minimum, you need to think about the keywords a recruiter is looking for when filtering out candidates. By trying to include these keywords along with simple formatting, you’ll greatly enhance the chances of making it to the next step of the process.

If you want to take it one step further, consider using a tool that scans your resume as an ATS system would get recommended changes. You’ll pay for the pleasure, but these tools don’t cost much when you consider the potential return of landing your dream job.


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