How to Beat the ATS

Monday 27th July, 2020

When applying for jobs you may be submitting your resume to multiple companies and notice that you’re not getting so much as a call back.

What you might not be aware of is that many larger companies will use an applicant tracking software which helps them screen the hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes they may get for a single job.

Making sure that you’re taking the steps to get through that initial screening by an applicant tracking system so that your resume can get to an actual human is an important part of applying for jobs. Below are some tips for how to beat applicant tracking systems to give you a better chance at securing the job you’re applying for.

What is ATS?

An ATS is an Application Tracking Software that helps companies sort through resumes that they receive for job postings. While not all companies will use an ATS, about 95% of many of the larger companies utilize them.

Why do companies use ATS?

There are a number of reasons a company will use an applicant tracking system software, but the main goal is efficiency. A company that is searching to fill multiple positions at once may get hundreds or thousands of applications each day. That’s way too many for the company’s hiring staff to read through one by one, so many companies utilize an ATS to help them save time and money weeding out unqualified applicants.

How do they work?

If the company you’re applying for uses an applicant tracking software then when your application is submitted, your resume or CV will first be screened by the software before anyone at the company goes over it. The software will use the criteria set by the company to help filter out applicants that are unqualified or resumes that are not formatted well.

Some of the criteria that your resume will be screened based on can be things like keywords and formatting. Most applicant tracking systems will read and reject a CV or resume in just 2-6 seconds! So, making sure that you take the steps to get past this screening will give your resume a much better chance at being seen by the person doing the hiring. The ATS, or what I like to call “The Evil Resume Bots”, is what is standing in the way of you landing that dream job.

Tips for getting your resume through the ATS

If you know you’re going to be submitting your resume to a larger company, or that the company you’re applying for a position with is allowing you to upload your resumes online, then chances are your resume is going to go through an applicant tracking software. Here are some tips for getting your resume through an ATS and into the hands of the person in charge of hiring.

Only apply for jobs you’re actually qualified for

One of the best ways to ensure that you’re not wasting your time submitting resumes is to simply make sure that you’re only applying for jobs that you are qualified for. If you only focus on jobs where you’d truly be a good fit, your resume has a much better chance at getting through their applicant tracking software and into the hands of a human who can see that you’re a good candidate for the job.

Put the job title you’re applying for in your resume

When applying for a specific job within a company, make sure that you include the job title that they have advertised in your actual resume.

Tailor your resume to the position you’re applying for

In addition to putting the job title in your resume, you should focus on tailoring your resume to the position you’re applying for. This sounds tedious and pretty time consuming, but if you’re only applying to jobs you’re a good fit for then you’re dramatically cutting down the number of resumes you’ll have to customize.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to rewrite your entire resume each time. Simply go over it quickly with the job you’re applying for in mind and add/remove information that will help you look like a better candidate will increase your chances of getting through the ATS screening process.

Keywords are important

One of the criteria that companies will set when screening resumes through ATS is certain keywords that are related to the job. Some companies may also screen to remove applicants based on irrelevant keywords. This goes hand in hand with tailoring your resume in the tip above, but you want to make sure that your resume has keywords that are related to the job you’ll be applying for such as skills, qualifications, certifications, etc.

Click ▶ Here ◀ to watch our 45 second video explaining just how we beat those bots for you.

What to avoid in the formatting of your resume

When it comes to formatting your resume, here are some things to avoid if you’re hoping to get past the applicant tracking systems in place. Keep in mind, one or two violations may not ding your resume, but having too many of these might. It all depends on the software being used, but it would be best to avoid the following.

● Lines (horizontal or vertical)
● Text boxes
● Tables
● Graphs
● Graphics
● Symbols
● Icons
● Italics
● Photos
● Quotation marks
● Dark backgrounds with light text
● Using multiple colors
● Mixed or multiple fonts
● Hyperlinks
● Underlines
● Small font size (under 11pts)
● PDF format

What format should you submit your resume in?

If you’re trying to get past application tracking software make sure you submit a .docx file, not a PDF. This might go against everything you’ve heard in the past because many companies request PDFs. However, when it comes to getting your resume or CV through application tracking software, you’ll have a better chance if you submit a word file or a .docx file.

Don’t worry, if you don’t have Microsoft Word you can easily use Google Docs to save your file as a .docx file.

What are the best fonts for a resume?

When it comes to choosing fonts it can be tempting to pick some fun or unique fonts to make your resume stand out, but take a step back and consider using more simple, generic fonts. The best fonts to use for your resume are Arial, Calibra, Didot, Gramond, Georgia and Helvetica. Distracting fonts may block you from getting through the ATS and, depending on the font, can take away from the content of your resume which is really what you’re looking to showcase.

Don’t try to trick the applicant tracking software

You may find tips online suggesting different ways to “trick” applicant tracking software into getting your resume through, but this is a mistake. Not only is it dishonest, it usually doesn’t work and might even work against you depending on the software being used and if it has filters in place to remove resumes using these methods.

Don’t forget that a real human will eventually read your resume if you do get through the ATS. So, if you do get through and your application is seen you could be automatically disqualified by the human reading your resume if they notice that you’re using these tactics. Keyword stuffing isn’t really going to help your resume make it through the ATS because your keywords need to be in context, not just listed out.

Simply taking the time to make sure that you’ve done everything you can to get through the applicant tracking systems in place will instantly give your resume a boost in comparison to those who are just shooting off a template-built resume to multiple companies. If you’re aware of the screening process and what to avoid as outlined above, you’re in a much better position to get the job you’re dreaming of.

David Alto

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