top of page

What You Need to Do to Beat Applicant Tracking Systems



Have you heard of Applicant Tracking Systems? ATS are automated programs that scan resumes for specific keywords and filter out any that don't meet their criteria. But even the ATS isn't perfect — in fact, over 60% of companies admit that some qualified candidates are could be taken out.


Applicant tracking systems (ATS) aren't simply a trend; they're here to stay. According to recent reports, up to 75 percent of organizations employ an ATS, including nearly 100 percent of Fortune 500 companies. Fortunately, getting your CV past the screener isn't as difficult as you would believe.


How do Applicant Tracking Systems work?


Here's an example


  • A company has an opening for a Software Engineering role that requires experience with Java.

  • You can find job openings on popular job search sites like Indeed.

  • The hiring manager receives 250+ applications from people with sales, marketing, and human resources backgrounds and software engineering experience.

  • The company searches its ATS for the keyword ("Java") in all resumes.

  • The ATS shows resumes with the relevant keyword ("Java") and those that do not.

  • The hiring manager reads only the resumes that mentioned Java.


What are the advantages? The hiring manager now only has to peruse a manageable amount of resumes and hasn't squandered their time on a hundred unqualified candidates. What are the possible drawbacks? Some great applicants may have had resumes that the ATS couldn't understand and were taken out, or they may have forgotten to list Java skills directly on their résumé.


It may appear difficult, but overcoming the ATS boils down to two factors: readability and relevance. In practice, what does this mean? Let's take it one step at a time.


1. Readability: Make your resume readable

An ATS looks at your previous work experience and talents to see if you're a good fit. If it can't read your resume, it'll think you don't have the skills the employer needs and will reject your application.


Would you please make sure the resume scanner can read your resume by uploading it for free to Score My Resume and double-checking that your sections and bullet points are appropriately labeled? You'll also get specific comments on how to improve the impact and bullet points of your resume with our free resume scanner. After the initial resume screening, you'll be able to wow a recruiter in this manner.


Whether you're drafting your resume for an ATS or not, this is sound advice. While some ATS are improving their ability to read multi-column layouts, they can still malfunction and process information erroneously. For example, if your work history is in one column and your education is in another, an ATS could read them as one section and fail to understand your experience correctly.


3. Ensure your text is highlightable

Scanning and uploading your resume makes it practically hard for the ATS to interpret it. If you are not sure, you could try to see if you can highlight/select the text in Chrome, Preview, or Adobe Acrobat Reader.


4. Use a PDF format (always)

In general, submitting your CV as a PDF is preferable. Why? Different versions of Word can modify your resume's style, typefaces, and formatting - you've probably worked hard to make sure it looks good, and you shouldn't risk ruining it. It's also more easily shareable - with PDF, recruiters and hiring managers don't need to have Office installed to read your resume.


5. Don't get creative with fonts and images.

It's time to get back to basics when it comes to resume pictures. Standard sans serif fonts like Arial, Calibri, and Garamond are good choices. Some modern typefaces transform letters to particular characters, which the ATS frequently misinterprets.


When it comes to using photos, the same rule applies. The ATS will not process icons, graphics, pie charts, tables, and diagrams, so avoid them. Not only because of the applicant tracking system (ATS) but also because recruiters and hiring managers like a concise, clear CV. Some resume writers recommend displaying talents as bar charts or graphs; do not do so!


6. Use standard section titles

Another thing recruiting managers despise is when an applicant tracking system (ATS) is involved. Avoid using non-standard section headings like "My career in a nutshell" to spice up your resume. "Work experience" already tells everything you need to know, and it's what the ATS will be looking for, so don't make it any more challenging to locate.



7. Relevancy: Keep it relevant to the job

Now that you know an ATS can scan your resume, double-check that it's reading the proper stuff! Customizing your CV to focus on the abilities and experience that the employer is seeking can help it pass the ATS and into the hands of a recruiter.


8. Use the right keywords

A few simple strategies ensure that your resume contains the keywords an ATS is going to scan. One method is to cross-reference the job advertisement. Our career resources tool can help you out by analyzing the job posting and indicating which keywords you're missing. And remember to save the job description when you apply — the employer may take the opening down by the time you get to the interview stage, and you'll want to have it handy as a reference.


9. Avoid keyword stuffing

It's a good idea to include keywords. Keyword stuffing is a no-no. So, what's the difference between the two? Don't overdo terms and utilize them in the correct context. It's preferable to have a chunk of gibberish than to use a few keywords naturally across your resume. The latter may help you get past an ATS, but it will get your resume rejected as soon as it reaches a recruiter's desk.


Now try these steps and beat the ATS! If you would like to learn more advice for any self-development topics, you could also consult with us! Also, follow us at Instagram @baikgp and @ayureadypodcast for more information and extra insights!

bottom of page