By Natalie Rodgers
You may be able to impress a hiring manager with your resume, but can you pass the ATS test? Over the last several years, many companies have begun using applicant tracking system (ATS) software to review resumes before they are given to an actual human. This software is designed to weed out the resumes with irrelevant experience and pass along the ones deemed applicable by a pre-determined system. Unfortunately, technology isn’t perfect and can discard your resume even if you’re an excellent fit for the position.
While there isn’t a foolproof way to ensure that your resume never gets discarded, there are things you can do to eliminate the chances of this happening. Here are some tweaks you can give your resume in order to pass the ATS test:
Apply for Qualified Positions
It can be tempting to apply for any and every job, even the ones you’re not qualified for. Unfortunately, if your resume shows that you are underqualified or overqualified for a position, it could be weeded out before an employer ever sees it. Make sure the resume you are submitting reflects not only the job qualifications but your experience. This doesn’t mean that you can only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in or that you have to match every detail of the job description perfectly, but you should stay in the realm of your experiences for the best chance to pass ATS and human reviewers alike.
You’ll want to limit yourself to only applying for several positions at one company. If a company you’re interested in is offering two positions you’re qualified for, then apply to both. Still, if you apply for multiple jobs with different qualifying factors, your resume may not pass ATS testing.
In tandem with qualifications, you’ll want to use keywords in your resume that heighten your chances of passing ATS software. One of the easiest ways to do this is to review the job posting and include the listed hard skills in your resume. For example, if they’re looking for a candidate who is proficient in Microsoft Office and has experience with WordPress, you’ll want to state those two skills in your resume explicitly. You may even want to consider rewording your current resume to fit the exact terminology of the job posting, as some ATS software looks for resumes with that specific wording.
Keywords can also include specific licensing and certifications, full spellings of abbreviated terms (spelling out Bachelor of the Arts rather than stating BA), and even the job title of the position you’re applying for. These keywords should additionally be used in the correct context instead of being randomly thrown into your resume.
Format Your Resume Correctly
Make sure you’re submitting your resume using the specific format requested by the employer. Even with the correct terminology, sometimes resumes are defeated by confusing formatting. If there isn’t a particular format given, the safest option is to submit your resume as a Word document (.docx), as that format is most accurately processed by ATS software.
You’ll also want to keep the design of your resume simple. Design aspects often misread by ATS systems include graphics, text boxes, tables, columns, hyperlinks and headers and footers. While adding fancy borders and formatting can make your resume visually impressive, the composition can come through incorrectly on other computers and during ATS processing. Consider formatting your resume as a chronological, combination or functional resume and eliminate visual effects.
Sources: CareerOneStop, The Muse