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From Rejection to Selection: ATS-Friendly Resumes

Small sticky notes on a black keyboard with the words, Applicant Tracking System to denote an ATS.

Creating an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) compliant resume is a unique blend of art and science. With so many applicants vying for a single position, it's crucial to ensure your resume stands out—not just to human eyes but to the often-overlooked gatekeeper: ATS. Collaborating with a professional can also provide the tailored touch needed to ensure your resume not only passes through ATS filters but also impresses human recruiters.


Understanding what ATS is, how it works, and how to craft a resume that breezes through its filters is key to job search success. Here’s everything you need to know to create an ATS-compliant resume that will get you noticed.


What is an ATS?

An ATS is software used by employers to streamline the hiring process. ATS helps manage the influx of resumes by parsing, sorting, and ranking them based on relevance to job descriptions, keywords, job titles, skills, and other criteria. Submitted resumes are all compared against the digital profile that the employer has entered into the system for the job in question. Essentially, ATS acts as a digital gatekeeper, ensuring that only the candidates who best match the job description and online profile make it through to hiring managers.


How to Beat the Bots!

With over hundreds of ATS platforms available today, the fundamental principles for creating an ATS-friendly resume remain consistent.

  1. Ditch Generic Resume Templates. While templates can be a good starting point, they lack customization that attests to your unique value and impact, specific keywords, and standard industry terminology to help you stand out from the competition.

  2. Use the Right Keywords. ATS software scans resumes for specific keywords related to the job description. These keywords often include job titles, skills, and industry-specific language.

  3. Simplify Your Formatting. Stick to a simple, clean format with standard fonts and section headings and use bullet points for easy readability.

  4. Optimize Job Titles and Descriptions. Ensure your job titles are common for the industry so if your current title is unique to your company, use a more recognizable equivalent.

  5. Quantify your achievements. Show Impact by using numbers to demonstrate your accomplishments and to provide clear evidence of your contributions and effectiveness.

  6. Highlight your Most Recent and Relevant Experience. Remove outdated or irrelevant skills, don’t hide your strongest achievements in a sea of words and language, and only go back about 10 years in reverse chronological order.

  7. Upload the Correct Resume File Type. Choose PDF, Word, or text formats if you know the system requirements or play it safe and use Word or text files but know that text files don’t preserve the resume’s design and formatting.


Key Takeaways

ATS systems and hiring trends will continue to evolve and staying up to date is crucial. Remember, your resume is your chance to make a stellar first impression. Creating an ATS-compliant resume is vital in today's job market to ensure your application reaches human recruiters, so make it count by combining ATS-friendly techniques with a clear, compelling narrative of your professional journey. Follow these tips and tricks to position yourself as the standout candidate, ready to take on new challenges and opportunities in your career!


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