What is an ATS and How to Optimize Your Resume to Pass ATS Scans?

 In Resume Advice

Research shows that over 98% of Fortune 500 companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to collect and sort applicants’ resumes. Some of the commonly used systems are Taleo, iCIMS, Greenhouse, Jobvite, Brassring, Lever, CareerBuilder, and CATS. Large companies are also known to use their proprietary tracking systems.

Why Are Job Seekers Concerned about ATS?

Besides helping recruiters and hiring professionals to eliminate under-qualified candidates, applicant tracking systems have CRM-style features that make it easy to contact candidates, send job postings, or collect proof of compliance.

For job seekers, however, applicant tracking systems are not a reliable tool. They can wrongfully eliminate candidates from the applicant pool because of resume formats or lack of the right keywords. To make sure your resume is noticed and selected, dedicate some time to optimizing it for ATS.

How to optimize your resume for ATS?

Recruiters glance at incoming resumes and determine whether they want to read further within the first six seconds. Make sure your core skills and achievements are easy to identify and read.

When you upload your resume into ATS, the text is parsed to make it searchable and the formatting often gets disrupted. ATS algorithms can distort or eliminate portions of your resume. When applying online, consider using a plain text version of your resume with simple sections and no graphic elements.

More suggestions on making your resume ATS-compatible:

  • Use a keyword not more than two or three times in your resume, considering the placement and appropriate sections.
  • Do not “keyword stuff” your resume as it will be red-flagged by the ATS.
  • Use keywords as they appear in each specific job description. ATS may not always distinguish between spelling variations (for example, front-end and front end).
  • Keep the format simple. Many applicant tracking systems can’t read tables and graphics.
  • Edit job titles to fit the role you’re applying for. (If you are applying for an Executive Assistant role but the job title on your resume is Administrative Assistant, your resume may not come up in the searches).

Finally, as with all texts that are optimized for technology, consider your ultimate reader and keep it human. Your resume will be read by the person with whom you want to start a conversation. Provide them with the essential information (your measurable achievements) and remove the unnecessary details.


About the author:

Tanya Mykhaylychenko is a professional resume writer with a background in content writing, university teaching, and IT staffing. She is a member of Editors Canada and Career Professionals of Canada. For more information, please visit https://tm-editorial.com/about/ or contact her at tetyanam@gmail.com to schedule a free introductory consultation.

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