What’s the Best Way to Get Your Resume Past the ATS?

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Writing a resume is hard enough. But in today’s world you have to write it for human beings and for the Applicant Tracking Systems that screen them first. Where do you even begin?

While it’s tempting to just ignore the ATS and focus on hiring managers, this isn’t a smart approach. In fact, 75% of resumes submitted to companies get blocked by automated systems. Even worse? More than 95% of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS to streamline the recruiting process. The bottom line is that if you want to get an interview, you need to factor in the ATS.

Here are some tips for getting your resume through the ATS and into the hands of a human:

Review the job description.

This is your ticket to optimizing your resume for both ATS software and hiring managers. Read through it again and make a list of key skills, qualifications, keywords and phrases that are important. Then link your background to these areas on your resume.

You can even mirror some of the wording from the job description on your resume to get the best results. However, don’t copy large blocks of text; only certain phrases that can help your resume stand out to the ATS.

Research other keywords.

Beyond what’s in the job description, think about other keywords that are important to include. These can be anything related to your industry, such as common lingo, certifications, responsibilities, licenses, or procedures. Again, adding this kind of relevant wording on your resume will further optimize it for the ATS.

Use variations of keywords.

Sometimes, it’s hard to know which word the ATS is actually screening for. For instance, if you’re applying for a marketing position, you might want to include your experience related to “SEO” and “Search Engine Optimization.” By using variations of important keywords, you can ensure all your bases are covered.

Don’t stuff keywords into your resume.

There can be too much of a good thing when it comes to keywords. Use them sparingly – a couple of times throughout your resume in different areas. Don’t overuse them again and again, which will make your resume sound awkward. You likely won’t even be able to get through the ATS since the newest technology is designed to spot keyword stuffing.

Use bullet points, not paragraphs.

When you’re writing your resume, use bullet points throughout it, not long paragraphs of copy. This will make it easier for the ATS to scan your resume, as well as the hiring manager once they are reviewing it.

Don’t put any content into the headers or footers.

If you usually put your contact information or any other text in the header or footer of the word document, you might wind up confusing the ATS. As a result, your resume could get screened out. Skip using this area at all to avoid the risk.

Avoid graphics and keep it simple.

Unless you are in a creative industry, like graphic design, avoid embedding graphics, logos or any other type of visuals on your resume. This will jam up the ATS software’s algorithm and it won’t be able to scan your resume, as a result. In general, keep your resume as simple and clean-looking as possible. This will up the odds of it making it through the system.

Use a professional font.

You’re best off with a sans serif font, such as Verdana or Tahoma, instead of the often-used Times New Roman. In fact, some screening software will reject the serif fonts, as well as script fonts completely. Also, keep your font to a readable size, never smaller than 11 points.

Skip PDFS and Word Docs.

In the past, these have been the file format that most resumes have been formatted in. However, when it comes to an ATS – especially older ones – it reads text format more consistently. A PDF or Word Document, on the other hand, can cause parsing errors and problems, which can cause your resume to get screened out. It’s not worth risking it and instead best to stick with a text format.

Don’t worry about length.

It used to be that a one-page resume was the gold standard. Today, though, a two-page resume is fine as long as you have the experience to back it up. In fact, a longer resume can even give you an advantage over other candidates with shorter resumes. It allows you more opportunities to sprinkle in keywords for the ATS software and helps you make a stronger case to hiring managers as to why they should hire you.

Get professional help optimizing your resume.

The takeaway here is that when you’re writing your resume, you need to take the steps above and account for the ATS. If you’re having trouble doing that, turn to a professional resume writing service like ResumeSpice.

We know how to create a resume that makes it through the ATS and impresses hiring managers. You’ll have a better chance at getting an interview, as a result. Simply call 832.930.7378 or contact us online to get started.