Get Your Resume Read: Formatting Tips to Beat ATS

Get Your Resume ReadRecruiters are increasingly using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and Talent Acquisition Systems (TAS) to help manage the overwhelming amount of resumes they receive. (Among job seekers, these tools are sometimes called the “resume black hole”).

Although this technology is a phenomenal help to recruiters, making their workload more manageable, these tools sometimes accidentally weed out candidates who are qualified for the job opening. This causes candidates to wonder why they weren’t good enough for a position when in reality their resume may have been screened out and was never even seen by a recruiter.

Often, this accidental screening-out of otherwise qualified resumes is simply caused by resume formatting that isn’t compatible with the ATS and TAS software. In order to increase the chance of getting your resume through this screening, you must format your resume properly.

After speaking with a few IT professionals and recruiters who deal with these systems, I compiled some tips on how to format your resume for the ATS:

Save Your Resume in a Format That Allows Editable Text

Word documents may be the best format in which to save your resume. Other formats, such as a PDF, can make it hard for the ATS/TAS system to read information. Additionally, sometimes recruiters need to adjust text on your resume (i.e. grammatical errors) before passing it along to the hiring manager. Therefore, editable versions of your resume are best to submit.

Do Not Use Templates

Some word processor software and career sites include resume templates for your convenience. This is a great way to learn how to lay out your resume in a clean, easy-to-read format, but using the template can actually cause issues during the screening process. The pre-formatting of these templates is not easily readable by the ATS software, so it’s best to use the template only for ideas on how to lay out your resume (but don’t actually use them when you apply).

Keep it Clean

As mentioned above, do not use the templates but ensure that your “free-hand” format is clean. Make sure you break up your sections, such as education and work experience, in a clean and easy-to-read way and label them accordingly. Re-read your resume before submitting, and ideally have a second person review it as well. Typos are absolutely to be avoided.

Use Keywords

One of the biggest screening criteria for these tools is the keyword optimization. ATS and TAS will compare your resume against the job description to see how relevant your experience is. Take the time to review the job description and tweak some of your verbiage to match the terms in the description. This can help create a higher percentage for candidate/job match.

As more companies and job boards employ ATS and TAS, it’s in your best interest to reformat your resume to work best in your favor. These little tips can really make all the difference. You’ll help your job search by ensuring you aren’t wrongfully screened out for a job you are qualified for due to a format that the systems can’t read.





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at The Social HR Connection!



Ashley Lauren PerezAbout the Author: After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in human resources and organizational management, Ashley pursued her passion and secured a career path in the human resources industry. She is currently a Sourcing Specialist for WilsonHCG, as well as a Brand Ambassador for WilsonHCG and #TChat.

Additionally, she uses her experience and knowledge to write a blog focusing on an array of Social HR topics. Even if you aren’t in the Charleston, SC, area, you can easily connect with Ashley on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook.



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