3 Simple Resume Tips to Beat Applicant Tracking Systems

Getting through a company’s applicant tracking system isn’t easy. Career Money Life Certified Supplier, Career Frontier, shares 3 practical tips on how to get your resume past the ATS.

Applicant Tracking System

(ATS) Noun;

Trickster robot designed to thwart job application efforts and deflect resumes into the recruitment black hole

 I know, I know. Not quite accurate.

From a recruitment standpoint, I understand the appeal of software that can save precious time in minimising the talent pool based on set criteria (by up to 75%!), however, it can be prone to error and if you’ve been job seeking for a while with no breakthrough it can most certainly feel like it’s working against you! But with approximately 60% of medium and 75% of large companies using ATS to shortlist the influx of candidates, it’s important you understand how to optimise your resume to give it super sleuth status and be shortlisted for review by an actual pair of human eyes.


  • This goes for any resume, but keep your chosen typeface to Arial, Calibri or Cambria and use the same throughout.
  • For ATS importing and structuring purposes, send your file in docx or doc format.
  • Avoid use of headers and footers. This is crucial when your name and contact details lie in a header! Don’t become a John Doe destined for application exile.
  • There are a few types of resume formats that can be utilised depending on your situation. For example, if you’re looking at a career change you might employ a skills-based (functional) resume, which is generally quite acceptable. In this case, however, format your document in the standard reverse chronological format so the information can be imported precisely.

Follow formatting rules

  • When listing your employment experiences, lead with the company name, followed by your job title, and lastly, the dates you were employed.
  • Refrain from being too fancy with titles. Label your Employment History as ‘Work Experience’ or just ‘Experience’.

Play Match-maker

  • Match exact keywords as shown in the job advertisement to formulate your summary, relevant skills, and even some of your accomplishments within your roles (within reason – no keyword stuffing). Keep it in the context of your actual skills and experience as they apply to the role and make sure the overall flow is still easy to read and makes sense!

Long story short, you’ll need 2 resumes (tailored for each role, of course) – the slightly more ‘pizazzy’ aesthetically pleasing, human-friendly version that you would send directly to a contact via email or hand to face-to-face, and the clean simple text-only ATS version you would submit via job boards. As with all technology I have no doubt these systems will be refined and eventually enhance the candidate user experience (or will at least be less like cracking the Da Vinci code), but until then, be conscious of how your resume is being received, make the necessary changes and beat it at its own game!

View the original article here.

We have lots of great career coaches who can help guide you through the job search, interviews, resumes. Contact us to learn more. 

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