Are you looking for a new job and feeling discouraged because you’re not getting enough interviews? If so, you need to create an ATS resume.

Why? Because most hiring managers today use computer software to manage job applications. This software is called ATS, which stands for applicant tracking system.

An ATS resume is designed to be read by applicant tracking systems. This means your resume needs to be formatted in a way that makes it easy for computers to scan and interpret your data. It also needs to include keywords that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.

The main benefit of using an ATS resume is that it increases your chances of being seen by a hiring manager, as your resume will be more likely to show up in search results. 

The main benefit of using an ATS resume is that it increases your chances of being seen by a hiring manager.” 

In today’s competitive job market, an ATS resume can give you a much-needed edge.

ATS software is a key piece of the hiring process, and understanding how it works is essential if you’re trying to get a job. If you don’t understand how an ATS works, many of the resumes you submit will disappear without a trace (sound familiar?).

This article will explain what an ATS is, how it works, and why hiring managers use it. More importantly, though, we’ll walk you through the basics of creating your own ATS-friendly resume that will greatly increase your chances of getting job interviews!


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What is an ATS and how does it work?

Online job boards like Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn have made it easy to submit resumes. All it takes is a few clicks of your mouse. While this may seem like a good thing for job seekers like you, it actually makes your resume stand out less

This is because hiring managers and recruiters simply don’t have the time or resources to look at the hundreds and even thousands of resumes they receive for each job opening. 

To solve this problem, most businesses now automate the process of reviewing resumes and applications with the help of application tracking systems (ATS).

An ATS is a computer software program that manages the hiring process. It does this by collecting and sorting the thousands of applicants’ resumes. 

It works like this:

  1. When you submit your resume, it goes directly into the company’s ATS.
  2. The ATS analyzes your resume and stores it in a database.
  3. Hiring managers search the ATS database for resumes that match the qualifications they’re looking for.

Basically, ATS enables hiring managers to cherry-pick candidates without looking through every single resume. 

Studies have shown that up to 75% of resumes from qualified applicants never make it out of the ATS database into human hands.

This is great for employers, but hard on job seekers. In fact, studies have shown that up to 75% of resumes from qualified applicants never make it out of the ATS database into human hands. 

How do recruiters use ATS to find candidates?

Most of the time, recruiters search for candidates using keywords. These keywords are usually job titles or specific skills

For example, if a recruiter is searching for a software engineer, they would type “software engineer” into the ATS search bar. Or maybe a recruiter needs someone who has “graphic design” skills. So they would type the keyword “graphic design” into the ATS. 

If your resume does not include the keywords recruiters are searching for, it will remain in the ATS database, unseen.” 

Searches often include multiple keywords, such as “administrative assistant” plus “Microsoft Excel” plus “PowerPoint.” A resume must contain all three of these keywords to show up in an ATS search. 

If your resume does not include the keywords recruiters are searching for, it will remain in the ATS database, unseen. 

What is your match rate and how can you increase it? 

Sometimes it’s not enough to simply include important keywords in your resume (although that’s a great start). 

Many ATS automatically compare your entire resume to the job description. This includes all of your work experience, education, qualifications, and skills. 

Recruiters can then sort applicants based on how well they “match” the job description. If your resume doesn’t have a high enough match rate, the recruiter might not consider you for the role.

Here’s an example of how an ATS assigns a match rate to each applicant. This particular ATS (called Taleo) uses the term “Req Rank” instead of match rate.  

Applicant tracking systems: Taleo's applicant rankings, or Req Rank. (ATS Resume)

If you want to receive a high match rate, follow these three steps to make sure your entire resume is as relevant and targeted as possible:

  1. First, take a close look at the job description and identify the key skills, qualifications, and experience that are required.
  2. Then, take a look at your own resume and see how well you match up. If there are any areas where you’re lacking, try to add relevant experiences or qualifications.
  3. Finally, don’t forget to use keywords throughout your resume. But don’t overuse them! Your resume should alway remain readable.

You should also be aware that there’s more than one type of ATS, and each type determines match rate differently.

For example, some ATS software recognizes plural versions of keywords while others do not. Knowing which ATS you’re dealing with can change how you create your resume. 

Read the full article: An Inside Look at iCIMS ATS Job Applications

Jobscan maintains a database of thousands of companies and the specific ATS they use in the hiring process. Just enter the name of the company you are applying to and Jobscan will show you ATS-specific tips to help you edit your resume. 

Make sure your resume or cv is ready for ats

How to create an ATS resume in 3 steps

To create an ATS resume, you’ll need to refer to the job description of the position you’re applying for. From this job description, you’ll be able to identify the job title, skills, and keywords you should include on your resume. 

Step 1 – Identify the job title or required experience and add it to your resume heading

The first step is to look at the very top of the job description. This is where you’ll find the job title or required experience you’ll need. Here’s an example:

To fill this position, hiring managers will most likely type the keywords “senior manager” and “sales” into their ATS. 

Because job titles are such impactful keywords, you should include them in your resume headline. For example, your headline could read: “Senior Manager with 10 Years of Sales Experience.”

It’s important to tailor your resume headline for every job you apply to. Custom headlines signal to both recruiters and ATS that you’re a good fit for the job.

Read the full guide: How to Write a Resume Headline that Stands Out

Step 2 – Identify required skills and mention them throughout your resume

The next step in creating an ATS compliant resume is to carefully read through the job description and highlight the skills that appear most often.

These are usually hard skills. Hard skills are specific abilities and knowledge based on experience and training. You should prioritize skills that show up multiple times in the job description.

For example, the hard skill “marketing” appears numerous times in the job description below. If you were applying to this job, you would definitely want this skill to feature prominently on your resume!

Job description with hard skills keywords highlighted in yellow.

All you need to do is print out the job description and highlight the skills or keywords that are mentioned more than once, like in the example above. 

Then write those words down in a list and see how often your resume includes each one. Finally, look for natural ways to include at least the most commonly mentioned skills and keywords in your resume.

The important thing is to speak the language of the hiring manager and the job description they’ve created. Use their words in your resume to increase your chances of getting a job interview

Read the full guide: Top Resume Skills and How to List Them


Make your resume stand out and get noticed

Upload your resume to see what’s missing and get a free match rate.


Step 3 – Identify relevant keywords you can optimize for

As we’ve seen, hiring managers like to search for keywords that are relevant to the job position they’re trying to fill. These keywords are found in the job description and should be included in your resume. 

Before you start adding keywords, however, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. 

First, don’t add keywords just for the sake of adding them. Creating an ATS resume is about tweaking the keywords that already appear on your resume so they exactly match the keywords in the job description.

This is important because most ATS cannot differentiate between synonyms, abbreviations, or similar skills. 

For example, if you have experience in “customer service” but the job description asks for “customer support,” your resume may not make it to the next round. 

This is why it’s so important to tailor each and every resume to the specific job description.

It’s important to tailor each and every resume to the specific job description.”

It’s also important to include both long-form versions of keywords and acronym versions. For example, if you are a certified public accountant (CPA), including both “certified public accountant” and “CPA” will ensure that your resume will be found by employers who are searching for either term.

The second thing to remember is – don’t overstuff keywords! This can actually damage your chances of getting noticed by recruiters. Resumes that are crammed full of keywords are often passed over in favor of those that are easier to read. 

So, when it comes to keywords, remember to use them sparingly. A few well-placed keywords will do the trick and help your resume stand out from the rest.

Read the full guide: How to Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description

How to format an ATS-friendly resume

The final thing you need to do to create an effective ATS resume is to make sure the formatting is ATS-friendly.

When you submit your resume to an ATS, it immediately strips out as much formatting as possible in order to analyze and parse the plain text. 

This is why you should NOT use tables and columns in your resume. These design elements might look nice from a visual perspective, but they can interfere with the ATS ability to accurately read and interpret your resume. This could lead to your resume ranking lower or even rejected outright.

Your best bet is to stick to a simple design that’s easy to read, and use clear headings and formatting structures.

Here are 8 tips for making sure your resume can be properly read by an ATS: 

  1. Use simple, clear language. Using jargon or overly complicated language will just confuse the system if it doesn’t match the keywords the recruiter searches for.
  2. Stick to traditional resume section headers like “Education” and “Work Experience” instead of more creative headers like “Where I’ve Been,” which will cause the ATS to organize your data incorrectly. 
  3. Use a common, easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Helvetica for optimal readability.
  4. Make sure your margins are 1 inch on all sides so your resume doesn’t look crowded. 
  5. Avoid using unnecessary graphics or embellishments as they can make your resume appear unprofessional and could confuse the ATS when it scans and parses the text.
  6. Avoid using special characters or symbols that the system might misinterpret.
  7. Do NOT use tables and columns to help organize your resume. These can result in critical information getting garbled by the ATS.
  8. Use a Word document when you are creating your resume. This will ensure that it looks good and is easy for the ATS to read.

Use an ATS resume template to help you get started

Trying to format a resume can be a daunting task, especially if you are not familiar with the different types of resumes. 

This is why Jobscan offers free ATS-friendly resume templates to help get you started. These professional templates are easy to use and available in a variety of formats, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. 

Three ATS-friendly professional resume templates.

Key Takeaways

Let’s quickly sum up what we’ve learned:

  • An application tracking system (ATS) automates the hiring process.
  • Recruiters type keywords into the ATS to search for candidates. 
  • These keywords are usually job titles or specific skills. 
  • You can find these keywords in the job description.
  • Try to include the job title in your resume headline.
  • The more your resume matches the job description, the higher your match rate.
  • Your ATS resume format should be simple and easy to read. 

Finally, Jobscan’s free resume scanning tool will help you determine how well your resume matches up with the job description. It also provides tips on how to improve your ranking. 

With this knowledge, it’s easy to tailor your resume specifically for each job opening and increase your chances of landing an interview!

FAQs

What is an ATS compliant resume?

An ATS compliant resume is one that can be easily scanned and interpreted by an applicant tracking system (ATS). This means that your resume should be formatted clearly, with relevant keywords included. 

How do I make an ATS-compatible resume?

To create an ATS-compatible resume, you’ll need to refer to the job description of the position you’re applying for. From this job description, you’ll be able to identify the job title, skills, and keywords you should include on your resume. You should also format your resume properly by sticking to a simple design that’s easy to read, with clear headings and font type.

What is a good ATS resume score?

After scanning your resume, the ATS scores your resume on a 1 – 100% scale. A score of 80% or higher moves you on to a human recruiter who may contact you for a job interview. If your resume scores lower than 80% it is placed into a database for possible future consideration. A resume that scores 20% or lower is usually rejected outright. 

Can I run my resume through ATS for free?

The best way to run your resume through an ATS for free is to use a free online ATS resume scanner, such as the one offered by Jobscan. Simply input your resume and a specific job description and Jobscan will provide you with a match rate indicating how well your resume aligns with the job listing.

Is your resume applicant tracking system friendly?