An ATS friendly resume is a must in 2022. If you apply for a job or upload your resume through an online portal, your application will most likely pass through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). There are several ATSs that are becoming increasingly popular, even in smaller companies.
What exactly is an ATS? It is a system that recruiters and HR use to track applicants, as the name suggests. Here’s a great post written by a recruiter about how they use an ATS.
I read 50 articles (which I have linked at the end of this post, including the top 5) and online posts to better understand how you – as a job applicant or job seeker – may overcome the hurdle of being screened by an ATS.
However, remember that it isn’t all robots and computers. People always review applications and your resume. Even with the so-called ‘knockout questions’, your application cannot be hidden from the person using the ATS – which is a legal requirement. A person makes the decision to invite an applicant for an interview.
The best practices you must follow to build an ATS friendly resume
Here are some of the suggestions that came up repeatedly in the 50 articles that will certainly result in an ATS friendly resume.
Use keywords from the job posting you wish to apply for in your resume. Some of the keywords that recruits look for (or feed the ATS) are degrees, names of majors, names of universities, and usually testable hard skills such as tools, software or technical abilities the job needs.
However, keywords in context are crucial. Include these in the description of your experience, within the bullet points. You may also add a ‘Skills’ section with relevant hard skills. Definitely do not include skills that you have not implemented or used in a long time.
Keywords help your resume rank higher (in ATS where rankings are possible) and may place you ahead of applicants with better qualifications. Similarly, highly competent applicants who do not include keywords may miss out on a fantastic opportunity!
Do not try and fool the ATS by copy-pasting the entire job description or keywords in white. This won’t work, and you may even be blacklisted.
Do not stuff your resume with keywords or repeat keywords too many times.
‘Boring’ is the best! Stick to a simple format without any attempts to design or ‘beautify’ your resume. Forget purchasing resume templates. Here’s a great free downloadable template for pretty much any field/profession to get you started.
Include your full name, contact information and complete LinkedIn URL (or other relevant URL) at the beginning of your resume. Do not use a header or footer.
An ATS friendly resume should not have images, logos, tables, colourful text and must have a standard font (Calibri, Helvetica, Arial and Verdana are some excellent font styles. Apparently, one recruiter did not recommend using Times New Roman). Use font sizes 10-12.
Enter information in chronological order – begin from the most recent.
Use simple and commonly used section headings – Education, Work Experience/Professional Experience, Research Experience, Skills, Achievements, Extracurricular Activities, Interests, etc.
Never add ratings to your skills (such as dots, stars or even).
You may also include a ‘References’ section at the end, if needed.
Do not be too creative. When in doubt, ask a consultant.
Typos (especially in keywords) and grammatical errors will not get picked up by the ATS and look terrible.
Use your word processor’s spell check, or Grammarly.
Always spell out commonly used acronyms for words and names, and add the acronym where relevant. For example, Master of Science in Computer Science (instead of MS in CS), Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), search engine optimisation (SEO), etc.
4. YOUR FINAL ATS FRIENDLY RESUME FILE
Name your file appropriately; such as Fullname_resume_job_year (Rubin_Sagar_Resume_Consultant_2022.docx).
Save your file as .docx or .pdf.
5. COMMON SENSE
Do not apply to hundreds of jobs with the same resume. Apply to jobs that you are most likely to be suitable for, and modify your resume according to each job opening.
Do not apply to too many jobs in the same organisation.
Align your LinkedIn profile with your resume. Recruiters look through your LinkedIn profile!
6. DO AN ATS CHECK – VOILA, YOU HAVE BUILT AN ATS FRIENDLY RESUME
Here are a few resources that you can use to check your resume.
These are the top 5 links that I found to be useful.