How to create ATS friendly Resume
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How to create ATS Compliant Resume: A Quick Guide

Last Updated on October 17, 2023 by Admin

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a software application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment and hiring needs. An ATS can be implemented or accessed online at enterprise- or small-business levels, depending on the organization’s needs; free and open-source ATS software is also available. This is your quick guide to how to create ATS compliant resume.


What is an ATS (Applicant Tracking System)?

An ATS (or Applicant Tracking System) is software that manages your entire hiring and recruitment process. From posting the job online to making the job offer, an ATS keeps track of all the activities that take place in the recruiting department. It helps you to speed up candidate management and significantly reduce time-to-fill.

“98% of Fortune 500 companies and at least 66% of large companies use it. The adoption rate for small companies is lower, but growing quickly. Last year, it was estimated that 35% of small organizations use ATS. Keep in mind that you are also competing with talent sourcing agencies.”

Why companies choose ATS software

The talent competition is fiercer than ever, and it’s never been more difficult for recruiters to find the right talent. Times like these call for hiring managers to adapt to a solution that completely streamlines the entire hiring process. Introducing the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), a software solution that helps source talent, assess potential, track interview processes, evaluate performance, make offers, and hire. All of this, with the right set of report insights and analytics.


How Do Applicant Tracking Systems Work?

At this point, you’re probably wondering how an applicant tracking system works and how it can accomplish all of these remarkable feats. To answer this question, an ATS streamlines the hiring process by helping recruiters create job postings, publishing them to company websites and job boards, screening applicants, tracking their status, storing their information, and simplifying the final steps of the hiring process when an offer is extended.

ATS software automatically scans and processes each job application sent to a company and then disqualifies applications that don’t meet the company’s requirements. Such requirements usually include job-related technical skills, certifications, and work experience.

ATSs are multifaceted and have many features, which may vary based on which brand of software you’ve invested in. Some brands are more reputable than others and have better and more advanced features. However, the top brands usually share several general streamlined hiring features in common, some of which include:

  • Candidate sourcing
  • Resume storage
  • Resume parsing
  • Filters
  • Keyword search
  • Applicant communication
  • Job posting distribution
  • Automated email customizations
  • Data and Analytics
  • Offer Letters
  • Interview Scheduling
  • Video Interviewing
  • Onboarding


What is an ATS-friendly resume?

An ATS-friendly resume is explicitly designed to receive a thumbs up from a company’s Applicant Tracking System.

Using an easy-to-read resume format, removing things like tables or images, and including resume keywords from the job, description help make your resume more ATS-friendly.

If you create your resume with ATS software in mind, your application stands a better chance of getting into the hands of an actual hiring manager, which is one step closer to landing a job interview.

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How to Write an ATS-Friendly Resume?

Many companies use resume screening to weed out applicants that may not be an excellent match for a job in today’s competitive hiring climate. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are software programs that scan resume content and use an algorithm to search for keywords.

The keywords look for specific skills, education, prior work experience, and even former employers. The ATS filter which resumes will go on to the next round of the hiring process. They track applicant information, giving companies an easy way to manage data and create more order throughout the hiring process.


Here’s how to make an ATS-friendly resume step by step:

First thing First: Only Reply to a specific job offer.

Do not waste your time applying for jobs that are not relevant to your studies and profile. You should treat the job description as a benchmark for your application documents. You won’t know how the recruiter set up the system, but you can make informed guesses based on what they specified in the ad.

Tailor your resume

Tailoring your resume to the job offer is crucial. That’s the best you can do to get invited to an interview. If you send a generic resume that doesn’t have much to do with the job offer itself, your chances of succeeding are close to zero.

Do Choose the Right File Type

There are only two genuine contenders in the great resume file-type debate: Docx vs. .pdf. While PDFs are best at keeping your format intact overall, the .docx format is the most accurately parsed by ATSs.

So if you want to get past the ATS, use a .docx file. But also follow directions (if the listing asks for a specific file type, give it to them!) and take the posting’s word for it (if a posting says a PDF is OK, then it’s OK).

And if you’re considering using an online resume builder, first check what file type it spits out—Mahtani cautions that some online resume builders will generate your resume as an image (.jpg or .png, for example).

Pro tip: If you don’t have Microsoft Word or another program that can convert your resume to .docx or .pdf, you can use Google Docs to create your resume and then download it in either format.

Do Make Your Resume Easy to Scan by Robots and Humans

In addition to making sure that your resume has the right content for an applicant tracking system, you also need to make sure the ATS can make sense of that information and deliver it to the person on the other end in a readable form.

Fortunately, ATS-friendly resume formatting is very similar to recruiter-friendly resume formatting. Like a human, the ATS will read from left to right and top to bottom, so keep that in mind as your format. For example, your name and contact information should all be at the top, and your work history should start with your most recent or current position. Kindly check this resource for Free ATS- Friendly resume templates.

Can I add graphics to my resume?

‘creative resumes’ waste a ton of space, aren’t bulleted in the right way, make it hard for recruiters to skim through, aren’t readable by resume screening software, and cost you interviews. Do not use graphics in your resume; keep it simple.

Use ATS-readable fonts.

Choose simple, professional-looking fonts for your resume. The best resume fonts are the ones that are readable to humans and machines alike. The following 10 ATS friendly fonts will always be a good safe choice for any resume:

  1. Times New Roman
  2. Tahoma
  3. Verdana
  4. Arial
  5. Helvetica
  6. Calibri
  7. Georgia
  8. Cambria
  9. Gill Sans
  10. Garamond

Don’t Include Too Much Fancy Formatting

In order to scan your resume for relevant keywords, most ATSs will convert the document to a text-only file. So at best, any fancy formatting will be lost. At worst, the ATS won’t be able to pull out the vital information, and so a person may never lay eyes on your excellent designs—or read about the experience and skills that qualify you for the job.

Avoid these elements when desiginign a resume to go through an ATS

  • Tables
  • Text boxes
  • Logos
  • Images: In the U.S., your resume should never include your photo.
  • Graphics, graphs, or other visuals
  • Columns: Since ATSs are programmed to read left to right, some will read columns straight across rather than reading column one top to bottom and then starting column two at the top.
  • Headers and footers: Information in the header and footer sometimes gets dropped by the ATS completely. Make sure all text is within the document body.
  • Uncommon section headings: Stick to conventional labels like “Education,” “Work Experience,” and “Technical Skills,” so the ATS knows how to sort your information. This is not the place to get creative with something like “Where I’ve Made an Impact.”
  • Hyperlinks on important words: Some systems will display only the URL and drop the words you linked from, so don’t link from anything important (like your job title or an accomplishment). Instead, paste in the URL itself or link out from a word like “website” or “portfolio.”
  • Less common fonts: Stick to a universal font like Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman, Garamond, Georgia, or Cambria. Avoid fonts you need to download, which the ATS may have trouble parsing.

Elements you can use without tripping up an ATS

  • Bold
  • Italics
  • Underline: But stick to using underlines in headings and for URLs, Shields says. In general, people have been trained to see any underline within sentences as links.
  • Colors: Just know that the ATS will return all text in the same color, so make sure your color choices aren’t vital to understanding the text of your resume.
  • Bullets: Bullets are an important component of any resume, but stick to the standard circle- or square-shaped ones. Anything else could get messy.
  • Label your resume sections in an understandable way.

Use the ATS resume keywords.

Using the right resume keywords is essential. An ATS resume must follow the pattern set out in the job offer. So take a good look at the phrasing and describe your experience imitating the job posting language. For example, if the employer is looking for a team player, describe yourself as one.

If you keep describing your teamwork skills as collaborative and miss out on the team-player keyword, the ATS resume test will miss it too.

Include role-specific keywords, industry keywords, and place your resume keywords in the correct location. Use spelling, numbers, and abbreviations correctly.

Choose the right skills for the position.

Putting the right skills on your resume will show the ATS you deserve a high candidate score. Plus, if your resume goes past the ATS scan, the recruiter will also get to see you’re perfectly qualified to get the job done. Again, you can use synonyms (collaboration or teamwork), but try to include the original wording at least once to be sure.

Have the recruiter in the back of your mind when optimizing your resume for the ATS.

Once you focus on optimizing your resume, the ATS scan, it’s easy to forget you’re doing all this so that a human will have a chance to read it. Make sure your resume profile and all the other sections read well and impress the recruiter with the achievements you put on your resume.

Your resume must read well, but it must also pass the resume ATS test. So, remember to include the right keywords, phrasing and focus on the areas delineated in the job ad. Let the job offer serve you as a benchmark for your resume. And avoid including extra elements such as tables or footers—ATSs don’t like them.

Don’t Try to Trick the ATS

ATSs have brought up a whole new host of problems with applicants “trying to cheat the system,” Owens says. You might have come across advice about how to tweak your resume to fool an applicant tracking system—by pasting keywords in white, pasting the full job description in white, repeating the keywords as many times as possible, or adding a section labeled “keywords” where you stick various words from the job description.

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