How to Get Your Resume Recognized by the Application Tracking System (ATS)

How to Get Your Resume Recognized by the Application Tracking System (ATS)

Getting your resume into human hands is becoming more challenging than ever before. To screen large volume of resumes, many employers are using software to help with the initial screening of resumes. The vast majority of large companies (typically with 50 employees or more) are using an automated system to screen candidates, these systems are called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).

It’s a harsh reality, but the advent of online applications and digital resume submissions have made it easier for applicants to apply for jobs, expanding the number of resumes that employers receive. However, the down side to this is that is has become more important than ever to ensure that your resume is formatted to make the “cut” past the Application Tracking System (ATS) and get into human hands.

The Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) screen out or reject an estimated 70 percent or more of resumes submitted either because the resume does not reflect the desired qualifications or the resume is not formatted in a way that the system can identify the information. The evaluation algorithm scans resumes for keywords related to the job description, looking for work experience and education that match what the position requires. Your resume is then ranked…the higher the ranking, the better your chances of it being seen by a recruiter.

This means that an effective resume if critical to making the “cut” past the applicant tracking system and into the hands of a recruiter. The old way of having a single “functional” or “chronological” resume is long gone thanks to technology and how employers are screening and hiring candidates. Your resume should show the recruiter that you have the qualifications for the job, therefore your resume should be tailored for each job you are applying for based on the job description.

Listed below are some good tips for writing a good resume for the applicant tracking system.

1. Use Keywords from the Job Description

* Review the job description and include the requirements of the job in your resume. It is important to use the mentioned skills more than once on your resume. Be careful, not to include all the keywords at the end of your document. A recruiter will spot this immediately and reject it immediately.

2. Job Titles are Keywords – Use Them!

* The applicant tracking systems and recruiters are looking for candidates who have experience and held roles similar to the job posted.

3. Simple Resume Format

* Generic, one size fits all resumes are the enemy of applicant tracking systems and will be the first documents screened out. Be sure to tailor your resume to each job that you are applying. Be sure to incorporate keywords and phrases that you have identified in the job description as much as possible, but make sure your writing sounds natural and reads well.

* Use standard sections and a clean layout…such as “Work experience,” “Education,” “Skills,” and “Certifications.” This helps to ensure the applicant tracking system reads your resume correctly.

4. Spell Out Abbreviations

* Do not make the assumption that the applicant tracking system can understand your abbreviations. Be sure to spell out all abbreviations, double check your work by comparing your resume against the language and terminology used in the job description.

These are good tips that will help increase the chances of your resume getting past the applicant tracking system and into the hands of a recruiter. However, keep in mind, the best way to ensure that your resume get into human hands, is by networking.

The majority of jobs are acquired through networking, referred candidates are more likely to get an interview … so get creative and find ways to network with someone who works at the company, considering social media venues such as; Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. These are all tools that help get the word out that you are looking for employment.


Thelisa Lavergne is a member of the Regional (Texas Gulf Coast) Navigator team for Workforce Solutions. She specializes in providing training and education to the Gulf Coast community, career staff offices, and employers in assisting individuals with disabilities. She brings with her over 10 years of experience and expertise working in the nonprofit industry serving Houston’s disadvantaged community; individuals and families experiencing homelessness, victims of domestic abuse, and individuals and families experiencing hunger. However, her greatest contribution to Workforce Solutions is her compassion, commitment, and dedication to serving others. She holds a M.A. in Organizational Management, a B.S. in Training and Development, B.S. in Counseling, and a Certification as a Personal Fitness Trainer.

Author: Blogforce

Workforce Solutions provides comprehensive human resource services for businesses and residents of the 13-county Houston-Galveston Gulf Coast region. Workforce Solutions helps employers solve workforce-related business problems and area residents build careers, so that both can better compete in the changing worldwide economy. Our Employer Service Division provides personalized service to help employers find qualified applicants for their jobs, build the skills and expertise of their new and current employees, and address human resource needs. We operate multiple community-based career offices in 13 Texas Gulf Coast counties to help residents get a job, keep a job or get a better job – offering placement, career counseling and financial aid services. We partner with the region’s businesses, educational institutions, civic organizations and community leaders to find solutions to current and future labor needs of industries that are vital to the region and its economy.

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