Technological advancements have taken over the workplace, going so far as to replace the human workforce in some instances. By the same token, technology has also seized command of the job application process through applicant tracking systems (ATS). As many of you know, most resumes are initially scanned by an ATS before they are reviewed by a real-life person, and those that don’t pass this preliminary software screening will wind up lining the bottom of the virtual barrel, without ever being viewed or considered by hiring management.

An ATS is a resume database that organizes, sorts, screens, and even ranks online applicants’ resumes according to the position at hand. Recruiters also use ATS software to select the best applicants and resumes through targeted searches for certain criteria, phrases, and keywords.

In short, ATS programs have altered the format and content of what it takes to compose a winning resume. By following the list of pointers below, you can improve your chances of making it past the ATS gate keepers, hopefully earning the consideration—and interview—of a hiring manager.

How Can Your Resume Survive the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)?

Keep the Format Simple and Consistent: The acceptable document format may differ with the different ATS softwares out there; however, most prefer Word 97-2003 files (“.doc” files). All resumes submitted with consideration for ATS review should…

  • avoid images, borders, and text boxes
  • use a simple layout
  • be consistent with the placement and presentation of section headers, sticking to simple, commonly used headers (for example, Summary, Skills, Work Experience, and Education)
  • have black type (no colors) and a plain, easy-to-read font
  • exclude fancy bullets or icons
  • leave ample margins and plenty of white space throughout the resume, without cramming too much information onto a page
  • include a simple personal header in proper placement (at the top, not at the bottom)

Online templates are also not your best bet when it comes to ATS resume reviews, as their formats and layouts are usually not maximized for this purpose; they tend to be too complicated and distracting.

Use Keywords Properly:  Keywords should be placed at the top of the resume and reiterated throughout the rest of the document; however, they should not be overused or purposefully and inappropriately overdone. It is good to use acronyms, but what they stand for should also be spelled out somewhere along the way.

Proofread: Spelling errors and typos are a deterrent, whether your resume is being scanned by an ATS or hiring manager. As with all writing, be sure to proofread your work several times, and recruit someone with a good eye to review it for you.

A simple, straightforward, and easy-to-read resume pleases the computer and hiring personnel alike. Make sure your resume hits the mark with both, then send it out with confidence.

All About Writing is here to help with all phases of the resume writing process, from composing a new resume to editing a workable existing resume. Our customized resume questionnaire, in-person consultation, round of edits based on client feedback to our draft, resume tips list, writing expertise, and dedication to customer service are just a few of the many benefits we extend to our resume clients. We also provide cover letters, references lists, post-interview thank you letters, and bios.

Learn more about All About Writing and owner Christa Riddle at Remember, with All About Writing, writing help is just a call or click away! Call us today to schedule your free consultation and get your project underway. We are here to assist with any phase of the project.

-by Christa Riddle

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