Long gone are the days where you head to a company and turn in your resume by hand. While some businesses accept hard copies, many have turned to digital processes. Nowadays, you submit your resume through an online portal or email it to a hiring manager. In fact, with the high volume of applications for each position, a lot of companies use applicant tracking systems or ATS to help manage the flow.
ATS are programmed to parse your resume for key information. Rather than looking at the document as a whole, it breaks it down into individual components, such as job titles, dates, education, and skills. While ATS may not identify the best candidate for the role, it can weed out those candidates who are the least qualified. This can save employers a lot of time and allow them to focus on finding the select few they want to bring in for an interview, rather than scanning through dozens or hundreds of applications manually.
So how can you revamp your resume to make sure that it is ATS-friendly?
Follow the Right Format
While ATS are becoming more sophisticated, they’re not perfect, and they do have limitations. For instance, they have difficulty reading text boxes, graphs, charts, and images. Use a straight-forward format that is all text-based with no fancy features. You can use tabs, indents, bullet points, bold/italic font, and horizontal dividers to create a more visually appealing yet still ATS-compatible resume.
In addition, avoid using headers and footers for essential content such as your contact information. Some ATS only read what is in the body of the document. Include your name, email address, phone number, and LinkedIn URL at the top of your resume, but in the body, not a header so it doesn’t get cut off.
Also, unless the system specifically mentions PDF as a file option, you’re safer sticking with .doc or .docx files. You could even use as plain-text file in a pinch. Not all ATS are capable of accurately reading PDF documents.
Incorporate the Right Keywords
A primary role of ATS is to scan your resume for specific keywords and qualifications that are essential for the position. But the good news is that employers will often use these exact terms in the job posting. Just make sure that you’re integrating them into your resume exactly as you see them; for instance, use ‘inventory management’ rather than ‘managing inventory’ if that is what the posting says.
Don’t just cram the top of your resume with a keyword section – make sure the same terms are used naturally throughout the content of your resume too. Some ATS look for these words in context, not just as a standalone.
Create the Right Flow
Ensure that your resume flows in a logical and easy-to-follow way. Use common section headings such as “Professional Experience,” “Education,” “Technical Proficiencies,” or “Professional Affiliations.” Don’t try to get too creative with headings or job titles. Simple and straightforward is better.
Organize your job experience in reverse chronological order keeping the dates in a consistent format (typically just listing the year rather than month and year or a specific day). You want to make it easy not only for the ATS to separate out your jobs, but also for a hiring manager to see your career progression. Remember that if you move forward in the process, your resume will be reviewed by a human, not just a computer, so you still want it to read well to the human eye.
Don’t let your resume get tossed to the side simply because it isn’t organized and formatted in a way that appeals to ATS. Make your experience stand out with a polished and professional resume that is ATS-friendly with help from the team at Grammar Chic. We’ll work with you to create a document that is attractive to digital scanners and human readers alike. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!