Recruiters often use tools to help them find qualified candidates for open roles. Applicant tracking systems or ATS are very popular among human resources and recruiters. In this article, we'll provide some tips and tricks to help you optimize your resume for applicant tracking systems. First, we'll explain what ATS is so you are more familiar with the language used.
What are applicant tracking systems?
Applicant tracking systems are used by all types of companies to speed up and organize their hiring process. Most recruiters use some form of ATS. Don't be alarmed by the term, most job sites include ATS and it's used behind the scenes. It's really a tool to allow recruiters to search key terms on candidates' resumes.
Companies use applicant tracking systems to screen resumes at a faster pace and find more qualified applicants. Let's dive into how you can optimize your resume to show up on more resume screening tools.
How to update your resume for ATS
Include the right keywords
The text of your resume really matters. To get noticed by the company's ATS, you want to make sure you have the right keywords throughout your resume. Applicant tracking systems narrow applicants down by searching for specific keywords that align with the job descriptions.
When using these tools, the hiring manager or recruiter decides which keywords to search for. These usually include hard skills, soft skills, experience, qualifications, and the qualities that are most relevant to the job.
A good way to check if your resume will get noticed by an ATS is to compare your resume content with the job description. You want the skills and qualifications on your resume to match those specified on the job description so that your resume is selected. If you are applying to an entry-level role, pay attention to degrees or school requirements in a job description.
Put the keywords within the context of your resume
ATS uses smart technology. This means if you just scattered keywords throughout your resume in random places, they'd know what you are trying to do.
Avoid reworking the job description as bullets in your resume. Rather, find ways to weave the keywords into your accomplishments and work experience.
ATS often checks for skills. These can be hard skills like being proficient in graphic design or soft skills such as great communication. Based on the job title and job description, you should have a good understanding of what skills the company is looking for. Then, make a list of your skills and see which ones match. By focusing your resume on these, you'll have a better chance of passing ATS.
Avoid fancy formatting
You'll want to keep your resume format simple. Avoid using data graphs, text boxes, or images. Headers and footers can also get missed in ATS. To ensure the software can read your resume, use a common font. Here are a few of the best options for font: Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman, Garamond, Georgia, or Cambria. You can still dress up your standard resume with bold, italics, underlines, and colors though. The ATS can read all of these.
Make your resume easy to scan through
You want your resume to be neat and clean. Recruiters and ATS both scan resumes, so make sure yours is easy to digest. The good news is if a person can easily read it, so can the ATS.
If you need help finding a format for your resume, consider using a resume manager or online tool. There are also professional companies that you can hire to help rewrite and format your resume. It's also a good idea to have your cover letter and Linkedin profile match your resume. That way, if a potential employer looks for you on the site, all of your information matches.
Almost all of the Fortune 500 companies use an applicant tracking system. It's worth job seekers taking the time to sign up for an online tool to help optimize their resume. There are many online tools to help check if your resume will pass an ATS. Jobscan is one of the most popular options.
Once you create a Jobscan account, you can easily use the application to optimize your resume. Using Jobscan or a similar tool can help ensure your resume will pass the ATS and up your match rate. You simply copy and paste your resume along with the job description into the system and it will provide feedback. You may have to create a few resume versions to make it ATS-friendly.
Final thoughts on optimizing your resume for ATS
Before you get started on your job search, it's important to understand how ATS works. With nearly all of the Fortune 500 companies using tools like this, it will be much harder to find a job without being compliant. Employers are getting more applications than in the olds days, and are doing whatever they can to speed up the hiring process.
Jobs are becoming more competitive and you certainly won't be the only candidate applying. When creating your resume, pay attention to the text of the job description. You may need to have a few versions of your resume if applying to multiple roles. Visit the company website and even write down a few notes to personalize your application for each job.
Everyone looking for a new position is in the same boat. Don't forget that keywords are extremely important when you submit an online resume. Focus on the job description, job title, and skills. While you want your document to be ATS-friendly, you'll also want to be unique. If you take a couple of hours to put your resume together with that in mind, you will be getting your next interview in no time.