Ask the Experts

Get Your Resume to Beat The (ATS) System in 4 Steps

3 Min Read
Thanh Nguyen   |   March 25, 2021
Happy job-seeker creating an ATS-friendly resume on her laptop

If you’ve landed on this post, you’re probably on the hunt for job opportunities. Lucky for you, you’re at the right place. Not too sure what an Application Tracking System is and why it's so important? Whether your Resume is ATS-friendly or not, it could solely be the reason why you’re not landing any job interviews. By the end of this post, we’ll make sure that you come out with an undefeatable resume.


First things first, what on earth is ATS?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a type of software used by recruiters and employers during the hiring process to collect, sort, scan & rank the job applications they receive for their open positions.


ATS is directly affecting your ability to find work, and here’s how.

According to Yahoo Finance, 75% of resumes never get read by a human. If you are applying for any big companies or submitting your resumes online (which you most probably are) - chances are that you are being dealt with by a recruitment bot. Research by Jobscan revealed that 98% of Fortune 500 companies rely on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to pre-filter resumes. Even sites like LinkedIn, Indeed & Seek have ATS built-in to their system! 

However, this is not necessarily bad news. If you know the system, there are always ways to beat that system. In this blog post, you are going to explore the 5 steps to start ATS-proofing your resume, so that you can get it through to the final recruiters and immediately boost your chances of being hired.

Have the right resume format

A common mistake made by job-seekers is to render their resume under PDF format, which is not as ATS-friendly as DOCX files or plain texts. Even when it is specified in the job description to submit the file under PDF format, it is still recommended to also include a DOCX file just in case.

Keep it simple

Although it is tempting to use graphics and pretty, colorful templates to draw attention to your resume - remember that you are dealing with a robot. ATS does not read images, so make sure that you use texts instead. Moreover, since ATS relies on chronological data to scan through resumes - it is recommended that you utilise the standard hybrid resume format, which incorporates an elevator pitch at the top, followed by a chronological “Work History” part that details how you've leveraged these qualities to add values for your prior organisations. 

Search for important keywords in job listings

Applicants who can predict the exact resume keywords will most likely be selected for the recruiter’s final search results. It is recommended that you analyse the job descriptions to find out what the exact skills and keywords are to include in your resume. 

More tips for success

As outlined in the previous step, you should adapt your resume to include all of the keywords detailed in the job listing. Create different versions of your resume keyword-tailored for each job listing to maximise the success rate. A few more tips to help you with customising your resume:

      • Include recognised headings such as Education, Qualifications, Experience, Hobbies, and References. Avoid making up new words as this confuses the ATS.
      • Spell out acronyms. You can also include both the acronyms and the spelled-out version so that ATS processes it better. E.g. ‘Bachelor of Commerce (BCom).’
      • Replace your “career objective” with an elevator pitch that details the main requirements for the role as well as your skills & achievements. This can also make a great read if it reaches the recruitment manager. You can explore these 6 Examples of Amazing Elevator Pitches by Seek.

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