Closeup of hands typing on a keyboard to create an ATS resume.

How to Create an ATS-Friendly Resume That Recruiters Will Notice

“Send your resume through this machine and we will get back to you!” Machine? Indeed, times are certainly changing. From printing out multiple copies of resumes and going office to office for job applications, resume submissions, and interviews, a system is now revolutionizing this process and increasing the efficiency of the company’s recruitment process. 

As job seekers, it will be advantageous if we get to understand how the system works. But what is this so-called system? 

What is ATS? 

Applicant Tracking System or ATS is a software application that focuses on recruitment and talent strategy management. With this application, it organizes and analyzes resumes per role from recruitment to interview and lastly hiring. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation on the increase of technological advancements with the relevance of incorporating information technology (IT) in leveraging human resource (HR) functions. The system is incorporated more and more in companies because it is able to increase cost savings, improve HR service delivery, intensify competition, and manage the workforce on a global scale. Hence, companies will most likely be using the system more and more because of the benefits. As aspiring applicants, being able to understand how the system works will be vital in passing the ATS.  

So now that you have submitted or will submit your resume through the company’s ATS system, it will be a big determining factor if you will be able to proceed to the next step or not. Here are some tips to help you get through the ATS. 

How to make an ATS-friendly resume! 

Besides standing for Applicant Tracking System, ATS can also stand for: 

  • Applicable
  • Tidy 
  • Simple 

1. Applicable

The first and main point that the ATS goes through is to find keywords. A usage of the system is that it helps recruiters filter and sort applicants based on how high the “match” between the job description and the contents of the resume are. With this, tailoring your resume and writing down words relating to the job description is a way to catch the system’s attention. Hence, A here stands for applicable. There can’t be a one size fits all resume especially if you’re seeking different job positions or titles, even if it’s the same job position in different companies, companies may want different core competencies in the same position. Especially if you’re looking for a big career shift, taking your time to adjust your resume and showcasing how your skills translate well to the company will be of great help. You can also highlight in your resume how your skills are transferable to another field whether the fields are tightly interconnected or not. The job title and skill section are the 2 main points where you want to focus on . Yet, be subtle about it also. Do not flood your resume with too many keywords as the system will actually notice it. Instead, sprinkle this applicability throughout your resume and don’t be too strict and nitpicky about it! The system isn’t like an HR manager that knows how to get bored. 

2. Tidy 

There might be a lot of ways and interpretations on what needs to be placed in a resume, but again, because the ATS is a bot, it has more limitations in what it seeks than an HR manager. Hence, use standard headings. There is an aspect in the system where it imports the information in your resume into a separate digital profile, and it does so by analyzing in sections. It depends per company or system as to what sections it wants to have but the norm for ATS is to have the following sections: 

  • Contact Information
  • Education  
  • Work Experience 
  • Skills 

Make sure that the headings in each section can be easily understood, using the usual ones are always the safest. This includes the heading for work experience, using the common name for it is always safe. Work history can be another term used for it also. The same goes for the education section, skills sections, or interest section. 

3. Simple 

With all the information ready, you may be worrying about the presentation of the resume, from font to icons. Well — don’t. There is no need to be crazy or extra about the presentation of the resume because the simpler the presentation of the resume is, the easier it will be for the system to go through it. If you were to put too much flair of colors and shapes to the resume, it will actually cause more harm. It will confuse the system’s navigation and trip over the complex formatting elements in your resume. Thus, creating problems and errors in the system that may decrease the chances of it passing on to the next step of the process. 

This certainly does not restrict you from being able to present your resume in your style to people but do keep in mind the limitations of the system. And every chance that decreases your likelihood of getting in your dream company, it is better to be safe than sorry! 

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