The ATS Resume is Here to Stay, Update Your Resume Today

Posted by Tim Gordon on Mar 25, 2021 2:08:26 PM


Imagine updating your resume with skills and certifications you worked hard to obtain, feeling confident you go on Indeed and start applying for all the available opportunities you know for a fact you qualify for. Cover letters typed and submitted, dates of experiences in your resume updated, you have just applied for ten or more jobs and now you wait. Weeks go by and no word from an employer. You are anxious and wonder why. Let’s break down what may have happened to your resume when applying for this job.

Well as soon as you hit “submit” more than 75% of applicants are disqualified for jobs applied for. This occurs before the recruiter even reads your resume. How can you make sure you steer clear of being disqualified? Well, understanding how the Applicant Tracking System or ATS works is a start. By following these six steps you will increase your chances of getting into the interview pool.  

About 93% of companies are incorporating ATS to help recruiters cherry-pick their applicants. ATS is a software developed to help big corporations cut down on the time spent searching for adequate candidates. ATS looks for at least a 75% match-rate when scanning through resumes, meaning it is important to make sure that all information included on your resume is ATS compatible. We know all of this information can be overwhelming but don’t worry, we will offer you the tools needed to submit a resume that can compete with the ATS.

First, you want to make sure your resume is in a chronological format. This is a standard recommendation when creating or updating a resume because it is most compatible with the ATS software. Since the ATS software is information sensitive, it can easily get confused with non-primary settings. Other formats with lines, boxes or graphs do not translate with the applicant tracking system. If you have lines and boxes even some bullet points can easily confuse the ATS software. The outcome of using these characters is the information will not translate leaving more sections blank. You do not want to go through the entire application system and submit a resume with missing sections.

Keep in mind when you are selecting the right template for your resume your biggest focus should be in tailoring your resume to the job offer. Try describing your experience using the same language as the job posting you are seeking. Most everyone has a “go-to” resume saved to their desktop and will apply it to any job opening. Generic resumes may not do the trick anymore. Less and less companies are spending their time digging through piles of applications and resumes. These steps can help you not only ensure your resume will be reviewed by the employer, but will also help your resume stand out among other applicants.

Recruiters are looking for specific applicants and specific skills. This brings us to the second step. Make sure you label each section with common headings like “skills” or “work experience”. Unfriendly headings like “Jobs I’ve Done” will not translate, leaving holes in the ATS scan process. This information will not make it into the applicant profile. Allow your resume to bring you closer to an interview by including job-related keywords. If you do not have the correct keywords matching the job description you will have a low match rate when the bots start scanning your resume.

Step three involves learning how to further boost your resume match rating. Keywords play a big role of increasing your chances of an interview. When preparing your resume, it is recommended that you scan the selected job descriptions and take notes of frequent keywords used. Incorporate these terms as often as possible in your resume. These terms are likely the keywords the recruiter searches for when looking for candidates. The ATS will pick up on these keywords and qualify you for the position.

Moving on to step four. Too often we like to dress up our resume to grab the attention of potential recruiters. However, since we have this gatekeeper, a.k.a. ATS, as the first contact, keep in mind that less is more with the cosmetics. How do you know if your resume is optimized for the ATS test? Well, if it is a PDF file you should be able to copy and paste the contents onto a blank document.   

If you are on defense and still would like a resume that represents your personality of style, Resume Genius does allow applicants to use ATS-friendly resume templates that are sleek and professional. That is about as flexible as it gets because step five encourages you to use common fonts to get past the ATS. Key components to keep in mind while updating your resume is acceptable format, job description keywords and phrases.

The final step is how you save your resume. Pay attention to the files recommended by the recruiting site. Some of the older ATS software do not recognize PDF documents. This could also result in missing content in your application process. If the job listing does not specify preferred format, PDF or .docx would both work.


The ATS is a much more efficient and time-sensitive way for recruiters to determine their qualified applicants. With this system, ATS can review resumes in under six seconds before choosing to qualify or disqualify the applicant. So, it is imperative to create an ATS friendly resume using these six steps in order to increase the likelihood that your resume will be reviewed by the potential employer. 

In a market where more than 80% of big and small businesses are looking to cut down on the applicant search time, it will benefit you to be ahead of the curve in preparing for your next job search. By using resources like Jobscan and Hloom you can stop throwing your resumes and cover letters into a black hole and start creating the perfect ATS resume that will be reviewed by employers. These resources equip you with the option to test your resume in preparing it to be ATS ready. Be sure to check out our “common resume mistakes” video that covers common mistakes that may become deal breakers with recruiters. Here is another resource to help you throughout the job search and application process.


Topics/Tags/Categories: Job Application, Resume

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