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What is ATS and is My Resume ATS Ready?

July 10, 2018

 

Clients often ask, “Can you make sure my resume works for ATS?” My answer, of course, is a resounding yes! But let’s be honest for a minute… Is ATS just another acronym we pretend to understand? Do you know what you are asking for when you ask if your resume is ATS applicable? What is ATS?

 

First a disclaimer. For those of you reading this working in HR, I know you are all too familiar with the various ATS systems and how they work. For the rest of us, that’s right — there is more than one ATS program. ATS stands for Applicant Tracking Software. It is an automated way to create a candidate profile and rank candidates for fit. If the resume cannot be fully read due to format, the profile will be marked incomplete and will not move forward in the screening process. ATS will also rank each candidate based on keywords and use of those words within the resume. 

 

Let’s start with how to ensure your resume is compatible with ATS. First, make sure you provide your resume in Microsoft Word format. ATS cannot scan pdf format. Second, utilizing tables, charts and fancy bullets may look appealing (not in this resumé writer’s opinion, unless you are applying for a graphic design position or if you’re C-level and providing separate and supplemental charts), but ATS systems cannot scan them. What’s worse, any information inside the tables or charts will be erased. In short, no-one will ever see those wonderful accomplishments that you tried to emphasize. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a great resumé format. Stick with nice, clean lines and the standard bullet points. Let the writing/content do the work for you.

 

Next, let’s move on to the keywords. ATS scans a resume for keywords that match the job description, standard duties and industry, and then ranks the candidate for compatibility. It is essential to have the current keywords. For example, client relationship management is used, but your resume says customer management, you will miss out even though the terms are interchangeable. At the same time, don’t fill your resumé with keywords and then forget to back up your proficiency with concrete details and strong verbiage supporting the keywords you used.

 

 

The bottom line: do your research before applying to an organization and make sure you are not missing keywords for the position. Compare your resumé with the job description and if you notice the description uses a different synonym for the same term in your resumé, make the appropriate change. 

Until next Tuesday…

 

Comment Below: What else can you share with us about ATS?

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