Top 5 Tips to Beat an Applicant Tracking System

Did you know resumes aren’t always viewed by a person? Instead, many employers, including over 99% of Fortune 500 companies, use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to help streamline the hiring process.  

The software works to efficiently collect, organize, and filter out applications so that the Hiring Manager only needs to sort through a short list of the most qualified candidates. Follow these 5 proven methods to create an ATS friendly resume and help increase your chances of getting yours past the Applicant Tracking System and into the hands of the hiring team.

Tip #1: Don’t use design-oriented templates
A simple Google search leads to a variety of free resume templates with beautiful designs. Many contain pops of color, graphs, or fonts that are bolded or italicized. Although they look fun, these elements can confuse the system and potentially flag your resume as unqualified.

To avoid this, keep your resume simple. Use standard fonts like Cambria or Times New Roman (though many recruiters hate this font) and avoid using graphics such as pictures, columns, tables or text boxes. Applicant Tracking Systems are specifically designed to scan documents for words and phrases, not graphic design elements.

Tip #2: Submit your resume as a standard Word document (.doc)
This will help to ensure your application gets scanned properly. Although many systems do accept files in .docx, PDF, or JPG format, not all companies use the same software. To be safe and avoid inaccurate information parsing, you should always submit your resume as a Word doc (.doc).

Tip #3: Use the same keywords and phrases highlighted in a job description
The Hiring Manager first defines the skills, experiences, and traits they are looking for in a new hire, then the Applicant Tracking System looks for these specific keywords and phrases to see what potential candidates are the best fit. By using the exact words found in the job description, especially ones that are repeated or otherwise emphasized, you will help increase your chances of being flagged as a viable option.

Tip #4: Customize each resume
Because you want to ensure each resume best matches the job description, each resume should look slightly different. Spending a few minutes to ensure you listed relevant experience as well as targeted keywords and phrases can make or break your opportunity at getting an interview.

Tip #5: Spell check your resume before submitting
Applicant Tracking Systems will not recognize misspelled words. Similarly, Hiring Managers may see errors as a sign of carelessness or lack of professionalism.

How Can PathMatch Help?
PathMatch has helped thousands of students and grads improve their resumes to get through Applicant Tracking Systems and in front of Recruiters and Hiring Managers. Check out our flexible plans to see how 100% of PathMatch clients land top internships and jobs.

Want these tips and more to fit in your pocket for on-the-go resources? Download our PathMatch app today!