8 Tips to Beat Applicant Tracking Systems

From the first known resume in 1482 by Leonardo DaVinci through the 1500s in England into the 20th Century and current Digital Age. Resume formats have changed dramatically over the years. Modern-day resumes must now contain a very specific format in order to beat Applicant Tracking Systems.

If you’re on the search for a new job and not getting the desired traction, your resume may not be ideal for ATS. In which case, have a read below for 8 tips to beat Applicant Tracking Systems.

#1 – Use ATS Resume Keywords Correctly.

The design of Applicant Tracking Software is to scan for keywords that relate to the job and industry. The proper usage of keywords is what sets your resume apart from others by gaining ATS high ranking. Like a high score in PacMan, ATS high ranking means your resume levels up.

Look at the job description of your ideal position. If you’re applying for a job within a specific industry, this is where you can identify the major keywords that relate to that industry or the position you seek. 

Include these keywords in a core competencies or skills section.

But be careful, one thing that’s just as bad as not having the correct keywords is over-using them. The ATS will reject an overstuffed resume as quickly as it would a resume with insufficient keywords.

#2 – Format Your Resume Correctly.

Stick to a traditional resume format at all times.

Text boxes, footers, headers, and graphics read as clutter during the scan which can result in your resume being rejected. Choose a basic format like reverse-chronological, functional or hybrid, to ensure the resume can be scanned by ATS and easy for a recruiter to read.

#3 – Send The Correct File Type

 Applicant tracking systems need to be able to scan and read your resume. The safest way to ensure that your resume will be read is to submit it in a Microsoft Word Doc file. 

Even though many of the systems are now advanced enough to read a PDF, you should still send a Doc file to be on the safe side. A Doc file is the preferred file type for both ATS and many recruiters.

You should also always check the job description to see if the employer wants a certain file type. Often times, employers will specify a certain file type, so it’s recommended to have both versions available.

#4 – Label Sections

If your layout is not done properly, the ATS may have trouble identifying where you worked, what you did, and how long you were there. We want to ensure the ATS can read the entire resume correctly. To do this, label your resume sections properly. Use subheadings such as work experience, education, and interests, etc.

Also, verify that the location, position, and length of employment information you provide is clear and consistent throughout your resume.

use a professional font

#5 – Use A Professional Font.

We can’t stress this enough, stick to a professional font. When your resume passes through ATS, the next step is recruiter review. And professional recruiters generally do not favor comic sans.

The best fonts to use for your resume are:

  • Arial
  • Calibri
  • Georgia
  • Helvetica

#6 – Make Spelling And Grammar Top-Level Priority.

Spelling errors can, and will, cause a resume to be automatically rejected. Additionally, the majority of recruiters will also dismiss a resume even if it contains only a single error.

Consider this, according to CareerBuilder, 58% of resumes contain spelling and grammatical errors. Read that again, over half of the resumes out there are a hot-mess in the actual wording department.  Join 40% of applicants that get spelling and grammar correct.

Pro-Tip: Grammerly is a wonderful tool!

#7 – Resume File Name

Yes, what you name the file matters. Even though it might get through ATS, recruiters will often ignore unprofessional resume names. Use your first and last name, or a combination of the two.

You should also add either the word “resume” or the position you seek.

Examples:

JohnS.Resume.doc

JohnSmith.Resume.doc

John.SalesManager.doc

This is also important because if a recruiter needs to go back and find you in the system, they can easily do so by searching your name in the database. This also holds true if someone is referring you. Your resume needs to be easily found should the recruiter want to pull up your file. 

#8 – Make Sure You Are Qualified For The Job.

To sum it all up, make sure you meet the qualifications of the job posting. Blindly sending out tons of resumes is a waste of your time.

It’s better to take your time and go through each job description to verify that you’re qualified. The ATS are designed to see if the candidate is a good match for the job and verify that he or she has the qualifications needed.

However, don’t be discouraged from applying for jobs where you meet most of the qualifications. If a position asks for 2 years of experience and you only have one, go for it anyway!

Patience and persistence are the names of the game now. It may take longer than you anticipated, or you could find the ideal fit quite quickly. Stay with it to step up to your next opportunity!

If all this overwhelms you…

Remember, you can always hire a professional. Whether you’re needing a Resume update, Cover Letter, Recruitment Services or LinkedIn Profile Optimization, our team at PWC has what you need.

Follow the link for a free resume review and consultation. https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

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