5 Tips for getting your resume past the Application Tracking System

Do you ever feel like you apply for job after job and never receive a response, even when you know you are completely qualified for the position?  If you answered YES, you are not alone.

The reason you are not getting responses from employers may very well be because your resume never makes it past the employer’s ATS, or Applicant Tracking System.  ATS software is designed to make a hiring employer’s job a little bit easier, but, as a result, it makes it more difficult for the job seeker.

Applicant Tracking Systems are scanning software that look for keywords in your resume, then rank and score your qualifications against the job description.  This can result in your resume not making it past the initial scan, and therefore, human eyes never see your resume.

There are a few things you can do with your resume to ensure it makes through the ATS.

  1.  Do not use templates.  Instead, use a standard Word document, save it as a .doc file as a Word 97-2003.  Keep in mind that not all ATS can ready .docx, PDF, RTF and JPEG files.
  2. Use simple formatting.  Do not use headers (including for contact information), footers, templates, borders, lines, symbols or shading.  Bullet points are fine to use.
  3. Customize each resume for each specific position in which you are applying.  A one-size-fits-all resume will not work with Application Tracking Systems.  Make sure to incorporate relevant and targeted words and phrases for each and every job.
  4. Use keywords and phrases “in context”.  Use descriptive, achievement-oriented bullet points, not as a list of skills or competencies.
  5. Edit carefully.  The ATS will not recognize misspelled words.  If your resume can make it past the ATS screening, you want the human eyes to find an error-free resume.

If you follow these basic formatting tips you will greatly increase the likelihood that your resume will rise to the top of the list.

By Tara Ryan
Tara Ryan Career Counselor, College of Sciences Tara Ryan