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ATS and how to work with the resume bot

Posted by: NIC Online Date: August 13, 2018 Category: Blog
ATS and how to work with the resume bot

You have undoubtedly heard that you only have 6 seconds to grab the hiring manager’s attention. It is about to get worse. Research shows that nearly 40% of employers use resume pre-screening technology – also called Applicant Tracking System (ATS) - to better manage the ever-growing pool of job candidates. Here’s everything you need to know about ATS and how to conquer the resume bot.

What is an ATS?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a type of software used by recruiters and employers during the candidate selection process. The ATS works like a resume database that screens, filters, and ranks job applications.

How does an ATS work?

When you apply for a job through a job board or a company website, the ATS uses your information to create a profile. Then, the ATS compares your candidate profile against a set of keywords from the job description. The ATS expresses the match between your profile and the job description as a match rate. Finally, the ATS ranks your profile along with the other candidates’.

Best practices for ATS-friendly resumes

Having a resume that can be read, analyzed and efficiently ranked by an ATS will improve your chances of getting noticed by hiring managers. Here are some best practices you can use.

Provide the right file extension. The job board indicates the type of files that are accepted by the ATS. Follow the instructions exactly; if you are asked for a resume with a .doc extension, be sure to upload your resume in that format.

Pay attention to the formatting. The ATS cannot read and scan your job application that includes these formatting elements:

  • Tables, text boxes, and columns
  • Images
  • Headers and footers
  • Borders, lines, and symbols
  • Special characters including accents

When you use these formatting elements in your resume sections, the ATS skips them. This means the ATS will miss relevant information and your resume might be discarded before it gets to a human eye. The ATS is improving; some of the systems accept advanced formatting and can read PDF files. However, you cannot know in advance what the capabilities of the ATS are. So, avoid using these formatting elements when creating an ATS-friendly resume.

Use this formatting to make your resume more readable. Continuing with the idea of creating an excellent first impression, here is the formatting elements you can use to make your resume easy to read by the human eye.

  • Bold text
  • Capitalization
  • Round bullets
  • Colored text
  • Different font sizes

Use these formatting elements to draw attention to the different sections of your resume such as Summary, Work Experience, Education, and Skills.

Focus on the content of your resume. Now that we have covered the formatting let’s continue with best practices for the actual content of your resume.

  • Use keywords from the job description. For example, if the job description says “Experience working with vendors,” use the word “vendors” instead of “contractors” or “consultants.” The keywords have to flow with the rest of your resume. Make use you don’t just copy and paste the job description. If you do this, hiring managers might discard your application when they read it.
  • Use standard resume sections. Some examples are Summary, Skills, Work Experience, Education, Contact Information, and Social Media Profiles.
  • Maximize the use of the Skills section. Include in your resume any unique skills that apply to the job such as computer programs, competencies, and other abilities. Spell out your certifications and also include the industry-specific abbreviations or acronyms. For example, if you have a Project Manager certification, you can write “Certified Project Management Professional (PMP).”

Proofread your job application. It is crucial to submit a spelling and grammar-error free resume for two reasons:

  1. When the ATS searches your resume for keywords, it will overlook misspelled words.
  2. When the Hiring Manager reads your resume, you want to make a first good impression. Grammar and spelling mistakes are often a turn-off.

Test your ATS-friendly resume with When you go to this website, you will be asked to copy and paste your resume on the left side and the job description on the right. The website scans both the resume and job description. Then, it gives you a match rate.

Now, you know what an ATS is and how it works. You can apply ATS-friendly resumes’ best practices and evaluate the effectiveness of your resume with Jobscan. Do you have any other tips to work with the resume bot? Feel free to share them with us.

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