Updated : 08/05/2020

A growing reason many candidates are not getting reactions to their resume is the ATS. These tracking systems are scanning our documents, deciding they don’t fit a certain criteria and “rejecting” them. The ATS assigns a score to every resume. Only submissions with the highest score ever get out of the database to a desk. This is ironic as computer tech has made it easier to find and apply for jobs, while something like an ATS is turning away an astonishing 70 percent of submissions. We need to optimize our resumes to ensure they pass the ATS challenge. Here are 10 solid tips for improving a resume’s ATS score.

Table Of Contents

1. Do Not Use Graphics or Images

The ATS breaks down information, sorting it into readable categories. It cannot read visuals and hence will lower overall scores.

2. Avoid Special Characters

For bullets, stick with standard black circles. Arrows, squares, checks and other characters could stop the ATS from correctly parsing information, possibly dismissing important data as irrelevant.

3. Give the Skills Section Special Care

The ATS is looking for words that indicate technical and specialized skill. Put in computer programs, competencies, training and other strengths, especially industry-specific ones. Use recognizable acronyms and abbreviations.

4. Watch the Typos

As if we can’t stress enough that a resume has to be grammatically and punctually correct. The ATS will not read words that are misspelled, including all-important keywords. It’s critical to read the resume three and four times.

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5. Use The Job Description for Inspiration

Carefully review the job post. Identify industry terms, required skills, jargon and buzzwords. Incorporate them into the resume. Be precise. If the listing requires “document management expertise,” don’t say “expert in document management.”

6. Keep Contact Information at the Top

The ATS cannot appreciate creative formatting. The tracking system reviews resumes traditionally: Heading, Summary, Work Experience, etc. Swap it up and it may not scan material appropriately. The ATS could also automatically send an email, but won’t be able to if it believes it can’t find contact info.

7. Choose Readable Fonts

No resume should use more than two fonts anyway, but for the ATS, stick with readable, web-safe fonts like Georgia, Courier, Arial, Times New Roman and Impact. Go near any other in your library and risk the ATS not being able to recognize text.

8. Don’t Try to Fool the system

It’s not unusual for hiring managers and recruiters to highlight a resume and find all the white fonts used to hide keywords. Some sophisticated systems can find it themselves and will reject those resumes anyway.

9. Relevant Content is More Important Than Ever

Irrelevant information lowers scores. If the info isn’t directly related to the job in question, you risk the ATS’ wrath. Make every word, bullet and sentence count.

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10. Personalize Every Resume

To truly get past the ATS, every resume should be tailored to the specific job listing. This is a piece of advice that ResumeHelp has always supported, ATS or not. A stylized resume with unique formatting, infographics and video is still viable, but be sure it won’t be screened by an ATS. Otherwise, stick with a .DOC or .PDF. Should you get the interview, send your fancy resume beforehand.

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