What are Applicant Tracking Systems and how to make an ATS-Friendly resume?

updated on 17 August 2021

Here is everything you need to know about applicant tracking systems. Read FAANGPath's ultimate guide on ATS and tailor your resume for your dream job. 

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You have to write a resume that not only catches the recruiter's sight but also successfully passes through ATS. 

Wondering why? 

Because in the digital era, most of the hiring managers are using software called Applicant Tracking System to organize the countless number of applications they receive every day. Several companies are also using ATS to filter resumes. Statistically speaking, 99% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS, and 75% of hiring professionals use some form of application tracking software in the recruitment process.

So it is now an undisputed fact that an ATS-friendly resume is a compulsion, not a choice. 

But wait! what is ATS, and how does it work?

Companies use ATS to shortlist candidates
Companies use ATS to shortlist candidates

Your ambitious plan to get a job in a top tech company may throw a surprise at you:

"75% of all received resumes get rejected before a hiring manager even reads them."

The reason?

Your resume has to face the software before it actually reaches the hiring manager's hand.  

Because of online job postings and the "one-click job apply" culture, companies receive hundreds of applications every day-- which are impossible to review manually. Thus, technology emerges as a savior and introduces powerful software to the human resources professionals -- Applicant Tracking System (ATS). It is a human resource software that simplifies the application and recruitment process for companies.  

But how does it work?

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) speed up the recruitment process and automate the hiring operations. It categories the resume content as per the information and requirements provided by the hiring manager and then scans it for specific job-related keywords. It even compares resumes with job descriptions. It also ranks them based on how well the candidate's profile fits the job requirements. Basically, it helps recruiters to filter out all unqualified resumes. Thus ATS saves a lot of time and makes the hiring process more manageable.  

ATS speeds up the recruitment process
ATS speeds up the recruitment process

But optimizing a resume for  ATS isn't as hard as you may think. So join me below and find out the best tips to optimize your resume for ATS.

Let's get started!

Also read: Why do you need a well-structured professional resume?

You need to think twice before choosing your resume template. 

Many job applications got filtered out by ATS because the template candidates use for their resumes is unreadable by ATS. Not using an ATS-compliant template may close the doors of your dream company.

Even Nikita Gupta, the technical recruiter at Amazon, accepts that not using ATS-friendly templates was one of her biggest mistakes in the early days of her job search. 

Please don't fall for fancy templates because they may get scrambled in the system. However, some modern ATS can process fancy templates, but if you are not aware which ATS your target company is using, it's better to be on the safe side and use standard resume templates. 

Your job hunting is not the right time for a hit-and-trial, so you should go for the tested-and-approved resume template. 

Fancy template and standard template
Fancy template and standard template

Pro tip: Use FAANGPath ATS compliant free resume template and maximize the chance of getting an interview call from your dream company. 

Also read: Your Job Search’s best friend — Your Resume

Use standard section titles, fonts, format, and file type.

You might want to look creative by using unique vocabulary, playful fonts, and different headings in your resume, but this may confuse ATS. So keep your resume simple. It's not just about ATS -- even hiring managers prefer standard and traditional resumes. Here are few tips to follow: 

  • Complex resume formats may confuse application tracking systems. Thus, stick with the chronological or hybrid resume format.  
Use the standard resume format
Use the standard resume format
  • Use standard headings like "Education," "Work experience," and "Skills." Don't be creative in writing section titles and avoid using something like "Abilities," "Great Accomplishments," "Expertise" because ATS is programmed to read standard headings. 
  • To make your resume more eye-catching, you may get prompted to add creatives, but ATS doesn't process pictures. So avoid using tables, text boxes, charts, graphic elements, pie- charts, and columns.
Avoid using images, icons and text boxes in your resume
Avoid using images, icons and text boxes in your resume
  • Use the commonly accepted fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, or Georgia. 
  • Always save your resume file as a PDF or Docx. However, PDF is not compatible with all kinds of ATS software. Thus, check the job description and see if it specifies the file format.  
  • Last but not least, proofreading is a must. Check spellings and grammar before final submission. 

Pro tip: Avoid writing information in the resume's footer and header section because ATS will not scan these details correctly. 

Also read: Your one ‘YES’ will come-Job Search.

Right keywords in your resume are essential to pass it through ATS.

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Even if you are highly qualified for the open position and fulfill all requirements, you will never get a call for an interview if your resume doesn't have keywords. Not only does ATS scans resumes for keywords, but hiring managers also spend an average of 6-7 seconds on your resume and search for the right keywords. So follow these steps to tailor your resume with keywords--

  1. Please read the job description cautiously and include keywords from it on your resume. 
  2. Prepare notes of technical skills, software, qualification, certificates, work experience required for the open position. And add them as keywords to your resume.
  3. Search for jobs on similar profiles online and get ideas on more keywords that you can include in your resume. 

Pro tip:  Include both the full form and acronym of a keyword in your resume. For example, Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  

Also read: Ghosted by a recruiter? Here's what to do next.

Conclusion

If you have your sights set on big tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google, Oracle, and Uber; then, it's most likely that your resume has to face the applicant tracking system first. Because these days, companies are relying on advanced technologies and software for the hiring process. So, in short, a resume can make a significant difference in whether or not you will get a call for a job interview.

However, you can easily analyze your resumes at jobscan.co

Resume scan result at Jobscan 
Resume scan result at Jobscan 

Definitely, rejections are part of job hunting. But it hurts even more when a resume gets disqualified without being read by any real person. The absence of important keywords, fancy templates, wrong file type, typos, and grammar errors are among the likely reasons that may land your resume in the rejected pile. So if you don't want your resume to be auto-rejected by ATS, put extra effort and optimize your resume for every job you are applying for. 

Don't have time to craft an ATS-compliant resume? 

Reach out to us at FAANGPath.

Under the dynamic leadership of Nikita Gupta, FAANGPath is empowering job aspirants by providing premium resume reviews, LinkedIn makeovers, 1:1 mentorship, and mock interview services. 

Connect with us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Clubhouse, or at www.faangpath.com

Also, join our 4000+ member community on the discord server and never miss any updates. 

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