In 2022, companies are trying to automate everything, including hiring.
They use ATS, or Applicant Tracking Systems, to screen out resumes that don't appear to be a fit.
This means you need to write an ATS resume - one that beats these resume screeners.
In this guide, we'll show you how to do that, plus give you free ATS templates you can use to get started.
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Already have a resume? Check to see if it readable by an ATS by uploading it here.
The Basics: What is an ATS?
ATS, or Applicant Tracking Systems, are software that help hiring managers scan resumes for specific keywords and filter out any that don’t meet their criteria. But even the ATS isn’t perfect — in fact, most hiring managers admit that some qualified candidates are probably being filtered out.
Here's a simple diagram of how it works - the Applicant Tracking System is in the middle of the diagram.
How Do You Write An ATS Resume?
Now that you know what an ATS is and how it works, let's talk about what you need to do to write an ATS-friendly resume that
actually gets past these screeners.
It might seem complicated, but beating the ATS is only about two things: readability and relevancy. What does that mean in practice? Let’s break it down, step by step.
First things first: Make sure your resume is readable
An ATS scans your resume's past experience and skills to determine whether you're a good fit. If it can’t read your resume, it will assume you don’t have what the company is looking for and will automatically discard your application. Obviously, we don’t want that to happen, so here’s how to make your resume ATS friendly.
Use a standard template (we have some below) This one is good advice whether you’re preparing your resume for an ATS or not. A single-column layout is best; while some ATS are getting better at reading multi-column layouts, they can still glitch and parse things incorrectly. For example, if your work history is in one column and your education is in another, an ATS could read them as one single section and fail to properly understand your experience.
And don't use tables — similar to multi-column layouts, tables rarely get parsed correctly by ATS, so it’s best to avoid them entirely. Use tabs and right/left aligns to structure your resume instead.
Ensure a resume scanner can read your resume Upload your resume for free to Score My Resume and ensure your sections and bullet points are correctly identified.
Use standard section titles Avoid trying to liven up your resume with non-standard section titles like, “My career in a nutshell.” “Work experience” already says everything it needs to, and it’s what the ATS will be scanning for, so don’t make it any harder to find than it needs to be.
Avoid using creative fonts or icons
Avoid using icons, images, or creative fonts — if the ATS can’t identify the section, it won’t know what it’s reading.
When it comes to resume visuals, it’s time to go back to basics. Stick with standard sans serif fonts like Arial, Calibri, or Garamond. Some newer fonts convert letters to special characters which often get scanned incorrectly by the ATS.
Examples of Readable ATS Resume Templates
Before we move on to other optimizations you can make to write an effective resume that's ATS-friendly, let's share a few ATS resume templates you can use. Notice how they all follow the key readability rules we described above - simple fonts, standard templates, no images, and common section titles.
Once you get your resume template in order, make sure it's readable by a resume screener. The easiest way to do that is by uploading it to a resume scanner, which will tell you what sections and bullet points are detected. You can drop your resume in the box below and our tools will give you an instant assessment on your readability, style, and other key criteria hiring managers look for.
Using the Right Keywords On Your ATS Resume
Now that you know an ATS can actually read your resume, it’s time to make sure it actually finds the right skills on it! Tailoring your resume to target the skills and experience the employer is looking for will give it a high enough 'relevancy score' to get it past the ATS and into the hands of a recruiter.
Use the right keywords
The best way to beat Applicant Tracking Systems is to use the right keywords. How do you know which keywords are the right ones? Look at the job ad! Employers will generally include a list of "must haves" — the skills and experience they're specifically looking for.
These are the important keywords you'll want to include. And remember to save the job description when you apply — the employer may take the opening down by the time you get to the interview stage, and you’ll want to have it handy as a reference.
The best place to put most of those keywords is in your skills section. This can be easily customized for each job you apply for and will only take a couple of minutes. The results are well worth the effort!
You can also include keywords in your projects section, if you have one. Including hard skills along with quantifiable metrics is a good way to optimize your resume for a real person at the same time.
Use a free resume keyword scanner to find the right keywords
Going back to the job descriptions, it is extremely time consuming and tedious to go through each and every word of a job description to find out the right keywords to include for every job. In addition, once you find the right keywords, you need to compare your resume to each job description to make sure you haven't missed any keywords. It takes 10-15 minutes every time, making it impractical if you are applying for hundreds of jobs.
That's where our free keyword scanner comes in. It uses AI to analyze and scan the job description that you are applying to, to identify
the most important skills that the job requires.
It then scans your resume to check if you have included the most important keywords the job requires. This is called 'matching' your resume with the job - the keyword scanner essentially calculates a match score between your resume and the job description of the job you're applying to.
The best part? The resume keyword scanner takes just five seconds to scan your resume and job posting to find the keywords you're missing on your resume.
This will save you hundreds of hours over the course of your job search.
Plus, it's free to use. Here's a short video showing you how it works:
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