How to Write a Resume that Scores BIG in the ATS (Applicant Tracking System)


Last Updated: December 2, 2022
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We are sure you know that your resume is one of the most crucial tools you have when looking for work. Remember the time when you used to submit your resume to a firm, someone from the company would manually check all the candidates’ resume and then short-list it and call you in for interviews. 

Well, it should be no surprise that such times are gone. Firms are getting bigger as more and more candidates are applying for the same position, it would be difficult to short-list candidates manually, right? That’s where the ATS comes in.

If you’ve been conducting job searches online, you’ve definitely heard of a kind of software known as “Applicant Tracking Systems,” or ATS. Many businesses use this application sort of software to speed up their hiring procedure. An automated system is used to screen job applications, check resumes for the necessary skills, and select which applicants to consider for interviews. The Resume is forwarded to the hiring manager if they find it to be a suitable fit for the position. The resumes that don’t meet the predetermined criteria are discarded, and no one ever sees them. This means that your resume should score big in the ATS now for you to get an interview. But how do you do that? How does the ATS work? How can you beat it? Wondering all of this? Worry not, we have got you covered. Read on and understand all of this!


So, How Does The ATS Work and Why Do You Need an Altered Resume for that?

Do you ever feel like you are throwing your cover letters and resumes into a black hole while looking for work? You could be wondering if anyone is even reading your applications. 

Thanks to websites like Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn, it’s simple to upload resumes. It only takes a few mouse clicks. While this can appear advantageous for job seekers like you, it actually makes your resume stand out less.

The screening and shortlisting of resumes have changed as a result of the digital revolution of the hiring process. You cannot just go in and speak to the manager and get yourself an interview. Regular resumes cannot be processed by the ATS due to their inherent flaws. Unfortunately, this means that a great applicant may be quickly overlooked if a resume template is not created and designed with the applicant tracking system in mind. Due to the ATS’s processing of each resume for formatting, relevancy, spelling, and keyword optimization, only half of them are accepted.

To pass the system, job applicants must understand how the resume scanning software functions and develop an ATS-friendly resume. Fortunately, if you stick to the guidelines that we outline here, passing the ATS is much simpler than you may imagine. So, let’s get started!


Don’t Let Software Stand In The Way Of Your Dream Job!

You must first pass the application tracking system in order to improve your chances of being hired. Here are the things you need to keep in mind:

  1. Be Selective

Be selective of the jobs you apply to at one company. To show hiring managers how serious you are about the right position, it is preferable to continue being choosy about the jobs you apply for.

To review the submitted resumes, human resources specialists and recruiting managers can connect to the applicant tracking system anytime. Additionally, they get access to your application history, which includes the number of open applications you have with their business. For this reason, better be selective and smart about the position you are applying to!

job approval

2. Apply, even if you aren’t absolutely qualified

You might believe that in order to apply, your qualifications must completely match those listed in the job description because an ATS will be processing your application, but this is not the case.

Recruiters and hiring managers frequently request more experience and skills than they actually anticipate in job descriptions.

Even if you lack all of the suggested experience, you can still be a wonderful employee as long as you’re a committed and passionate learner.

3. Job Title

The headline’s objective is to draw attention to how valuable you are as a job candidate. Your job title should be succinct, compelling, and relevant to the position you are applying for. It’s crucial to modify your resume headline for each position you apply for. Custom headlines let recruiters and applicant tracking systems know you’re a good fit for the position.

You should use job titles in your resume headline because they are such powerful keywords. Say in your headline things like:

  • “Senior Manager with 10 Years of Sales Experience”
  • “Results-Oriented Business Analyst with 7 Years of Experience”


4. Add Relevant Skills

In order to create an ATS-compliant resume, the following step is to carefully read the job description and highlight the talents that are mentioned the most.  If necessary, include these keyword skills in your resume.

For instance, if the term “marketing” is used frequently in the job description, it goes without saying that you should use this term in your resume as hiring managers would probably look for it.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should use the same terminology in your resume as the hiring manager did in the job description.


5. Use Keywords

Utilizing the appropriate keywords that correspond to your profile is a crucial step in optimization. It aids a resume scan’s ability to find your resume in pertinent searches.

In your application, use the same keywords from the job description in a way that naturally showcases your expertise and abilities. 

Consider researching similar positions to get suggestions for additional terms you might use to catch the attention of the applicant tracking system and hiring manager. The ATS is aware that you are qualified for the position by the presence of these keywords in pertinent parts.

Specific degrees and qualifications could also be crucial keywords, depending on your sector. Because ATS software cannot distinguish between identical skills, you must use keywords in their proper context from the job description.

As you create an ATS-friendly resume, there are online tools (like Jobscan, Resume Worded’s Targeted Resume, or SkillSyncer) that can assist you in finding the critical job description keywords.


6. Use Common Section Headers

Although you might wish to get creative and substitute “My Story” for “Summary,” it is preferable to adhere with the standard section headings.

Use straightforward titles that the ATS will recognise in order to make sure that the material in each segment can be read and comprehended appropriately.

It’s crucial to refer to your professional history as “work history” and your academic background as “education.” Use the standard set of resume headings to make the task of the ATS as simple as possible.

The standard resume heading are:

  • Contact Information
  • Summary
  • Work Experience (or Work History)
  • Education
  • Skills


7. Clearly define acronyms

An applicant tracking system’s parameters will determine whether it looks for written-out sentences or acronyms. The ATS might not recognise an acronym in context, even if it is relatively popular, such as “JS” for “JavaScript” or “PRO” for “Public Relations Officer.” Although the long-form term or phrase will probably be sought for, it is still advisable to use both.

Avoid taking any chances while using acronyms or abbreviations. Because ATS may not be able to distinguish between a concept’s full title and its abbreviated form, your resume must be as simple to grasp as possible.

For just this reason, it is better to avoid using synonyms. The ATS will search for particular words, thus a word that sounds similar may not be recognised.


8. Use Basic Language

You might want to think outside the box and show some creativity in your resume. We know if you’re looking for a creative position and want to demonstrate your personality, it could be alluring to use section headings that are a little less conventional. 

However, using unusual phrasing on a resume can confuse an application tracking system. Use straightforward language and simple, understandable phrases, and model how you would discuss your qualifications in a face-to-face interview.


9. Keep The Format Simple

  • Think about using Arial, Times New Roman, or Georgia as your resume’s primary font throughout.
  • Use bullet points and bolded or underlined phrases instead of charts or other graphical elements to draw attention to particular points. You may bold, italicise, underline, and of course, utilise bullets.
  • Your resume’s margins should be roughly 1 inch on all sides to prevent clutter.
  • DO NOT utilise columns and tables. Although they may make your information more visually appealing and organised, the ATS may jumble your data.
  • Headers and footers should not be used. These can make it challenging for the ATS to accurately parse your information.


10. Right Type Of File

For your resume, you must always use a Word document rather than a PDF or plain text. It gives you more creative freedom than plain text files and is more ATS-friendly than PDF files. Avoid utilising a complex format, even though PDF files are useful for keeping your resume’s layout.

All available ATS can readily process a Word document, notably a .doc or.docx file, and most recruiting managers prefer it. Some applicant systems still have issues with PDFs, despite the fact that the majority of ATS systems already process them.

Submit a Word resume if that is what is required. Otherwise, a PDF resume serves the same purpose.


11. Include Referrals 

There is frequently a question on an online application asking if a current employee of the business has recommended you for the position. If so, don’t forget to include the name of your friend or coworker here to improve your chances of getting through the applicant tracking system.

You should take advantage of this if you have a contact within an organisation because some businesses even offer employee referral programmes that can send your application directly from the applicant tracking system to a hiring manager.

Personal connection still matters while using an ATS to apply. Reaching out to the employer is a fantastic method to introduce yourself and demonstrate your interest in the position, whether it’s through email, a networking event, or joining on LinkedIn. All in all, keep the resume simple and easy to understand. A little proofreading can mean the difference between an ATS-friendly Resume and an immediate rejection.

Go Get That Dream Job!

We hope these tips help you write the perfect ATS-friendly resume that lands you the job you’ve been vying for. Happy job hunting! 

If you still have any doubts about what skills to mention and how to find your skills, you can talk to experts at Mentoria!

Kick-start your career discovery journey with Mentoria & be sure to find the right career fit for you. Our 4-step career guidance solution, helps us find the right career fit for you from 3 streams, 850+ courses & 12,000+ careers.