Used as a digital gatekeeper, an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) quickly scans each candidate’s resume—searching for keywords—and disqualifies applicants that don’t meet the job requirements set by the company. Incapability ATS formatting errors can also get your resume rejected. Not every ATS is the same, but AI (artificial intelligence) technology works similarly in most of them to extract and divide the information contained in your resume into categories and words. Below are tips to ensure your resume is AI friendly and not one of the 75 percent that is rejected by an ATS before reaching the human eyes of the hiring manager or recruiter.
- Focus on keyword optimization: AI turns your resume into plain text—and reduces it to a collection of words—and then scans to identify keywords that match its search criteria. Recruiters and hiring managers typically use job description wording to filter job applications. Therefore it’s important to modify your resume to mimic the language used by each company in their job description. Jobscan has compiled the top 500 ATS resume keywords that should be used throughout your resume and cover letter.
- Don’t put information in the header or footer: Even though the resume header is often used for contact details—such as phone number and email address—many application systems can’t read the text in these sections. Therefore, important information may be omitted from your resume after it passes through the ATS.
- Organize your experience chronologically: ResumeGenius suggests using the chronological resume format—organizing your work experience from most recent to oldest—because it’s most compatible with ATS software. AI identifies patterns in resumes and can key in on dates to determine a candidate’s longevity and staying power in previous roles.
- Avoid fancy formatting: Most ATS software is set up to read resumes from top to bottom and left to right. When you try to make your resume stand out using tables, columns, and/or graphics, it makes it more difficult for the ATS to read. Up to 75 percent of qualified applicants have been rejected by an ATS because the software couldn’t read their resumes. The information parsed often becomes interspersed in the wrong sections of your resume and lines of text can be removed completely.
- Use traditional fonts: When you use a non-standard font on your resume, it’s more likely to be converted incorrectly by an ATS. To ensure your resume is “read” correctly, use a traditional font that the ATS is programmed to read. The Muse has compiled a list of the best resume fonts.
- Stick to standard resume section headings: Even though they’re catchy, avoid section titles like “what motives me” or “what I’ve been working on.” These types of titles will not be accurately interpreted by AI programmed to look for section headers such as work experience, technical skills, and education.
- Test your resume using free ATS scans: Once your resume is finalized, try saving it as plain text and then open it to make sure all of the information is still there. If anything was removed when converted to plain text, the AI bots will most likely skip over it. Next, test your resume using a writing service that provides free ATS scans including TopResume, ZipJob, and JobScan.
- Submit using the correct file format: Before uploading your resume, be sure to read the employer’s directions about the file format to submit. 43 percent of resumes are submitted in an incompatible file type. TopResume states that “unless the company specifies that you can upload another file type, play if safe and stick with a Word document” because Microsoft Word is commonly used by organizations—especially if they use an ATS.
If you’re applying online at a large company, chances are that your resume will be scanned with an ATS. To land an interview, it’s more important than ever that your resume sell your qualifications in terms an AI bot can decipher and understand. Using the tips provided in this blog, you can craft a resume that seamlessly passes through ATS software and moves you to the next phase of the hiring process.
This blog was written by Broadleaf Business Solutions Designer Tiffany Bennett.