What is an Applicant Tracking System?
An applicant tracking system or ATS (or also known as the resume-filtering bots) is a kind of software developed for recruiters and employers to help them with the selection process. It is a resume evaluation algorithm that scans your application for certain resume keywords related to the job description, work experiences, and educational background that match what the open position calls for. It then ranks the resumes and puts the higher ranking on a priority list. When your resume gets a higher ranking, the employer or recruiter will most likely see your job application.
ATS was initially developed for larger companies that receive thousands of job applications in a week. Nowadays, a lot of companies use ATS to help them during their hiring process to collect, categorize, examine, and rank the applications received.
There are various ways to make your resume play well with the ATS and still appeal to the human eye that will eventually give your application a thorough review.
How to Write an ATS-friendly resume
1. Choose the correct file type
Most job seekers think that a PDF file is the most ATS-friendly file type. PDF may preserve the format and design of your resume, but it is not ideally compatible with all ATS software. It would still be best to play it safe and use Word documents or plain-text files (though it is not highly recommended since it limits your formatting options).
2. Do not submit a generic resume
Be more creative with your resume. Every company is now looking for specific skill sets and qualifications. Let recruiters know that you took the time to customize your resume based on the job requirements – without falsifying the facts.
3. Optimize keywords
Another way to make sure of your resume’s compatibility with the ATS is to optimize your keywords. The keywords you need to use are those that represent all the skills you have and the expertise you have gained over the years that will make you stand out and qualify for that target job. Give the job description a thorough review and use terminologies verbatim on your resume.
Keep in mind that in optimizing your resume, you have to think about the frequency and placement of these keywords. Some ATS will identify how strong your resume is based on the frequency of keywords used. Other systems assign a predicted amount of experience for a specific skill based on its placement on your resume. Keep both systems in mind if you want your application to be fully compatible with ATS.
4. Avoid charts, images, or other graphics
Use a simple resume format. Colorful charts and graphs may look appealing to the human eye, but for the applicant tracking system, embedded graphics or images get completely omitted or become a garbled mess on your application. If you decide to use images or graphics to highlight your skills, make sure to have a text translation so that the system can locate the information.
5. Use a clean resume layout with standard sections and clear hierarchy
Don’t make a very complicated resume not be creative with the sections. When it comes to an ATS-friendly resume, less is more. Complex and unusual resume format confuses most applicant tracking system. Stick to the standard templates such as “Work Experience”, “Educational Background”, “Skills”, and “Training and Certifications.