You may have recently submitted a job application online. If so, you’ve almost definitely had an experience with applicant tracking software (ATS), whether you’re aware of it or not.
ATS are automated systems that scan resumes for keywords and filter out the candidates that don’t fulfil certain criteria. While they’re not a new development by any means, I’ve found that they are often not mentioned when friends or family give resume advice.
While your hopes of employment don’t hinge solely on an unfeeling and remorseless robot, there are some simple things you can do to give yourself the best chance of getting through to the other side of an ATS scan.
Tips for ATS friendly resume writing
- Use the language and phrasing of the job ad. It’s probably the language the company used when configuring their ATS.
- Use text only – ATS can’t read images.
- Don’t overstuff your resume with keywords. It has to be readable by the human you are hoping to get it to.
- Stick to the commonly-used headings like ‘Education’ and ‘Employment’.
- Use simple, common fonts like Calibri and Arial.
- Spell out acronyms. The software’s looking for an exact match, and ‘AFA’ isn’t going to trigger any software looking for ‘Authorised Financial Advisor’.
- Proofread your resume well. ‘Poople person’ won’t be recognised by an ATS and it certainly won’t impress the hiring manager!
At the end of the day, ATS is only a small part of the whole hiring process, but it’s one of the easiest parts to excel in. You just need to do a little work on the basics to give yourself the best chance of having your resume seen by an actual person.
For more information on crafting competitive applications, attend one or more of our upcoming online Graduate Gateway workshops – particularly the ones happening on Tuesday 8 December!