How to Modifying Your Resume to Beat ATS Algorithms

When companies are hiring hundreds of people per month and getting thousands of resumes per position, they are likely using ATS (Applicant tracking system) systems to help them with the first candidate preselection. Resumes are scanned and parsed by ATS and many of these systems match profiles with current openings based on the keywords in resume.

These algorithms in ATS systems are doing the first preliminary resume screening, which sometimes means your resume ends up in the dead pool. I personally would rather manually check every single profile to make sure that I don’t miss a single great candidate.  But due to the high volume of hiring (hundreds/thousands of new people every year) some companies on market are using preliminary matching.

If you want to improve your chances to pass the first preselection in those companies, here are a few basic tips on how to improve your resume for their ATS system.

1. File format

Choose your file format wisely because not every ATS is able to work correctly with PDF files. They will not able to process and parse data from your files into their database, so your resume will be invisible for any search that that recruiter will do. Instead of PDF, try to send your profile in DOC(x), RTF, ODF.

You can still have two versions of your CV, one as a text version that you use to submit online and the second version with better “design” and graphics that you can send directly to your contact.

2. Choose the right keywords

Choosing the right keywords and using keyword optimization is very important! Every job description has keywords and prime terminology, so you can easily copy this in your resume. The ATS is looking for these keywords and if you have them, you will improve your probability to be connected with company openings.

If the company is looking for AngularJS, don’t forget to add this to your resume. But do not lie – it doesn’t make any sense to add experience you don’t have. Also do not put a list of keywords at the end of the resume to increase the probability that you will be found or match more with other roles. If you are connected with every position that the company has open, your profile could be overlooked by recruiters, because they would see your resume every day.

3. Be specific

Don’t use an only experience like “MS Office” or Graphic Tools. ATS systems like data, so be specific and use terms like: “Advanced user of image editors: Photoshop, Gimp, Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape” or “Advanced user of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint)”

4. Keep your resume simple

Try to avoid all graphics, tables and fancy fonts. The ATS is built to read text only, so don’t put important data into graphics. ATS’s can’t read graphics like OCR (Optical Character Recognition) systems and they also have problems with tables.

Try to avoid any special arrows or bullets and don’t mix different fonts. Try to use a simple font, because even though it looks nice to you, ATS won’t appreciate your specially picked font selection in various sizes.

5. Contact Information

Most ATS start parsing files from the top, so don’t forget to add your contact details on the top of your resume. Double-check that your email address is correct and that there are no typos like instead of

6. Resume Length

ATS doesn’t care if you have one page or five page resume. It will scan your resume regardless of the length. However, you need to consider that your resume will be read by recruiters and hiring managers, and nobody wants to read a ten page resume, no matter how intriguing you are. Try to add relevant experience, phrases, and keywords within a maximum of four pages.

7. Proof your documents

Remember to review your application for errors and typos. ATS does not recognize misspelled words. After you upload the CV it will be checked by recruiters and hiring managers and to have a resume full of misspelled words does not look good as a first impression.

If you are not sure if your resume is ready for ATS, contact your friend who is working in recruitment and ask him/her for a help.

Don’t forget that your LinkedIn profile is also your resume and recruiters are using your LinkedIn profile too. With the right keywords and tuning, you’ll have a much better chance to beat the ATS algorithms.