Optimizing Your Resume for Applicant Tracking Systems

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is the software that recruiters use to scan resumes. ATS scans for essential keywords and rates resumes based on relevancy. HR managers read only the top resumes. So, job applications that performed poorly get rejected without even any person taking a glimpse at it. That's why you always need to target a resume at a specific job because it optimizes your resume for ATS as well.

Before writing your resume understand that you won't get any attention if your resume is too general. The more your resume is targeted at a particular job ad, the higher the ATS ranks you and the more consideration you will get.

To optimize your resume for ATS, you also need to format it in such a way that the system can extract content correctly. The following is a checklist for making your resume format more ATS-friendly:

  • Your resume title has to be the same as it is in a job description.
  • Do not use unique resume headings. Use only common headings like: Contact Information, Experience, Education, and Skills.
  • Do not use graphics in your text content. This could break the scanning process.
  • Do not use special characters.
  • Finally, use keywords from the job ad's description.

Don't overload your resume with unimportant elements only to make a good first impression. It won't get past the ATS screening. Keep it focused and clean.


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