What is an ATS? How to Beat the System Bots with Your Resume

ATS (Advanced Tracking System)

Have you heard about Applicant Tracking Systems or ATS?

Are you confident that your resume will reach the hands of the hiring decision-maker and be read by a living, breathing person? If you’ve applied for a job online, it’s probable that your application has gone through an Applicant Tracking System.

Companies use ATS systems to organize, search and communicate with large groups of applicants.  Did you know that 99% of Fortune 500 companies use these bot systems as part of their recruiting strategy?

The system sorts applications by keyword (i.e. job title and skills), filters (i.e. education and location), and overall compatibility with the job description. An ATS automates the job search process, saving time, and minimizing human error by narrowing the applicant pool. Examples include Taleo, Brassring, Smart Recruiters, Workday, LinkedIn and Indeed have built-in systems.

So, how do you ensure that your application makes it successfully through the ATS into the hands of the human decision-makers?

Tips to create an ATS-friendly resume format:

  • Tailor your resume to each job description. DO NOT submit bulk generic resumes.
  • Note the relevant keywords of the position and match them on your resume, using both the long-form and acronym industry rich versions. For example, use “Master of Business of Business (MBA)” or “Search Engine Optimization (SEO)”. The “Skills” section of your resume is a perfect place to include these keywords.
  • Use a chronological or hybrid, rather than functional, resume format.
  • Avoid text boxes, tables, columns, images, charts, headers, or footers, which can cause parsing errors. Most ATS systems can’t read the information contained.
  • Use traditional resume fonts (Helvetica, Garamond, or Georgia) consistently throughout your resume. I prefer an 11 font Calibri because it is clean and neat.
  • Use standard resume section headings rather than trying to be clever or cute – for example, Professional Experience rather than What I’ve Done.
  • Although PDF files best preserve the design and format of a resume, they are not compatible with Applicant Tracking Systems (unless indicated otherwise). Instead, save your file as a .docx or .doc.
  • Design your resume in black and white, avoiding colour and fancy templates.
  • Use plenty of white space in your resume (2 – 3 pages long max) depending on where you are in your career. In most cases, two pages are ample.
  • Don’t bury your contact information in the header.
  • Use bullet points to highlight accomplishments and qualifications, using the simplest bullet options: solid circle, open circle, or square. Don’t complicate the resume with check marks or other fancy bullets.

At Langley Writing Services we will craft a resume and cover letter that will assist you in landing interviews and callbacks and pass through the Applicant Tracking System.

I worked with a professional administrative/clerical client in 2019 who wanted to land a position with a local city. My client had a friend who worked in the city so, once the resume was complete, she sent the resume to him for advice. He LOVED the resume, made one suggestion and told my client that he thought the resume would make it through the ATS.

Contact us today to start! We’ll sit down together in person, where possible, for an intensive interview to uncover your unique abilities and quantify your skillset. Once we complete your new resume, your value will be communicated in a clear format with all your skills and accomplishments displayed in a way that will make an employer stop and take notice.

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