When you apply for a job online your resume will often be scanned by an internet robot, also known as an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) before it ever lands in the hands of a hiring manager. An ATS is an electronic filtering software that scans resume content for specific keywords to determine if the document should be passed forward for human review. ATS search for relevant information that matches a job posting, including education, training, former job titles, and other keywords that point to the required experience. At least 98.2% of Fortune 500 companies use BOT technology.1
If your resume does not make it through the BOT labyrinth, it will never make it to the hiring official. It essentially does not exist. Therefore, how you organize your resume so that it gets the most attention from organizations that use BOTS to read information and filter out candidates is critical. ATS software cannot read embedded details and will remove your document from the applicant pool if it does not pass ATS readability. ATS will perform a more accurate review of your resume if the format is simple, straightforward, and incorporates a few basic rules. Consider the following best practices:
- Don’t place important details, like your contact information, in the header or footer of your resume document.
- Don’t embed charts, images, unusual fonts, logos, columns, hyperlinks, or other complex design elements. ATS will look for matching words and headings, and most are not able to convert PDF, HTML, and Google Doc formats.
- Do incorporate keywords from the job description that are essential to the role and with proper context. Review what language, what licensing, what education, what software, and what skills are required and include those words.
- Do use standard section headings and full titles: Contact Information, Education, Key Skills, and Work Experience.
- Do proofread. Misspelled words will not register as a match.
- Do save your resume as a plain text file and review the results. If the plain text version of your document is missing details from your original version, has garbled characters, or has sections that appear disorganized or rearranged, then it will not pass ATS screening.
The end goal is to have your resume reviewed by a human. An ATS-friendly resume is not that different from what a person is scanning. This means it contains relevant data and metrics, is keyword optimized, error-free, well-formatted for content and space, and tailored to the job.
Director of Outreach and Career Services
Tami has an extensive and varied professional background that spans criminal justice, paralegal education, and international school marketing and communication. Her career has been guided by a focus on developing strategic partnerships that facilitate school growth and student opportunity. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Degree in Criminal Justice from Texas State University.