Everything You Need To Know About an ATS Resume

ATS is a term you’ll hear when trying to create a resume. How can you make sure your resume works well with ATS? Read our expert advice and tips to help you!


ATS Resume

There are many tips out there to get hiring managers to take a second look at your resume. File type, general writing style, and how to list contact information are factors that influence if a hiring manager reads your resume. But a particularly critical factor is ATS, which stands for applicant tracking system. An ATS can dramatically change your chances of getting a hiring manager to notice your resume and cover letter. Here’s what you need to know about writing an ATS resume and getting it to stand out.

What Is ATS?

ATS makes it easier for large companies to scan resumes as they receive them. An ATS scans through all the text in a resume, parsing text that concerns your work experience, certifications and skills. Once an ATS finishes a scan, it can push the resume through, or reject the resume altogether. You don’t usually get a response with ATS, as the ATS scan is completely internal, so if your resume gets rejected, you’ll never know.

The Inside Scoop on ATS

ATS software uses a scoring system. Certain elements in a resume are assigned a certain number of points. If the resume gets to a certain point threshold, it gets pushed through. The ATS may assign points based on whether your resume contains specific keywords that relate to your education, work history, how many years of experience you have, and your competencies.

Another element of ATS is knockout questions. With these questions, if you don’t have a certain answer, your resume will automatically get rejected. For example, if a job application is looking for six years of experience, the ATS may look through your resume to add up your years of experience. If it doesn’t find that experience, you’re likely to get knocked out.

If your resume makes it through this process, you’ll have a better chance to get through to the next round of the hiring process and actually getting an interview.

Tips To Keep in Mind for an ATS Resume

1. Look at job descriptions to find keywords.

Most of the time, the resume keywords you need for optimization are right in the job description. Take note of the job requirements, and soft and hard skills wanted. Getting the right keywords for your resume is often as simple as picking out these keywords.

2. Pick an ATS-friendly resume template.

One of the big mistakes people can make is choosing a resume template that is hard for ATS to read. The ResumeHelp resume builder can help you choose ATS-friendly resume templates that look amazing. Most importantly, it can help you choose from fonts that work well for ATS, like Arial or Times New Roman, help you describe your professional experience, and show what resume examples should look like in your field.

3. Label your resume sections effectively.
When you’re writing your resume, it’s standard practice to use headings to differentiate each section. Qualified candidates can sometimes get lost just because they fail to use headings that match what ATS is looking for. If you come up with a title different from “Work Experience” or “Work History” for your experience section, for example, the ATS may not realize you actually have the years of experience they’re looking for.

4. Think about both the ATS and the recruiter when proofreading.
Lastly, when you go through your resume for one final proofread, it’s important that you think about it going through an ATS first, then going through a recruiter. That way, you can make sure your resume content reads well for an automated system and for an actual person.

FAQ: ATS and ATS Resumes

Q: Can I run my resume through ATS myself?

Unfortunately, this isn’t possible. Every ATS is individual, and you can program each one individually. Because it’s not possible to know what the hiring manager has included in the ATS for a specific job, all you can do is write the best resume possible following the tips above, which gives you a good chance of matching up with the job posting and meeting ATS standards.

Q: Which resume format works best for ATS?

Most of the time, the chronological format works best for ATS since it’s the most common resume format. However, if you want to submit in a different format, such as a functional resume, you can improve your chances by using all the tips on this page, particularly keywords. Include more bullet points describing exactly how your skills and training relate to the job at hand if you’re short on related experience.

Q: How do I make sure my resume is ATS-compliant?

The first step is to use the tips in this article. Remember to choose the right file format—a PDF file is usually your best bet, but a .docx is also often acceptable if the company specifically asks for it. Avoid extraneous graphics like graphs and pictures, which an ATS can’t scan. Finally, follow our guides for writing a good resume on this site – a well-written resume that contains the right keywords has just as a good a chance as any of passing ATS.

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