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How to Get Your Resume Past the ATS
Your resume is your sales tool. Your highlight reel. Your opportunity to put your best foot forward.
(This post may contain affiliate links. Check out my full disclosure policy here!)
So what exactly is an applicant tracking system?
So how does the ATS work?
1. Keep Formatting Simple
2. Nail the Right Keywords
Achieving growth and hitting sales targets by successfully managing the sales team
Designing and implementing a strategic sales plan that expands the company’s customer base and ensures it’s strong presence
Managing recruiting, objectives setting, coaching and performance monitoring of sales representatives
Numbers (three years of experience vs. 3 years of experience)
3. Focus on the Hard Skills
4. Use Resume Tools
Since you’ve made it to this point, you’ve probably learned way more about applicant tracking systems than you’ve ever wanted to.
I gotta do all this to have the best chance of getting my resume noticed?!
I know. All this stuff can be time-consuming. I get it.
So I wanted to give you a great option to help you know if you’re doing everything right:
Use a resume keyword tool like Jobscan.
Jobscan lets you compare your resume against actual job descriptions. Then they tell you how to make it better.
And the best part?
They give you an actual score of how you’d measure up in their system – just like the ATS does.
Here’s an example:
Jobscan has both a free plan and a monthly plan, so make sure to check them out.
5. Ditch the Career Objective Section
Some people really just love that good ole objective statement.
…well, everyone except hiring managers.
You’ve probably been taught that you need to put a career objective on your resume.
And your objective is this:
You’re a qualified employee that wants the job you’re applying for.
But of course, you can’t say that, so you go with this instead:
I am a hard working individual who wants the opportunity to work in the Finance industry.
You know you want the job. I know you want the job. They know you want the job.
And here’s the thing:
If your resume has made it this far, it probably means you’re qualified.
So as someone who’s seen hundreds of resumes, I recommend using that space for something more important instead.
Like your experience, for example – rather than just stating the obvious.
6. Job Titles Matter
Small tweaks often make the biggest difference.
So if you’re applying for a role as a Sales Manager then make sure your work history job title actually says Sales Manager.
And vice versa, if the role is for Sales Director then make your titles match Sales Director.
Sometimes we forget to change titles and words because they’re interchangeable. We figure, “What’s the point?”
But when it comes to the ATS, job titles matter.
7. Be Careful With The Header and Footer
Some applicant tracking systems are better at scanning certain things than others.
And actually, one study found that the ATS couldn’t identify a candidates information 25% of the time.
Why? Because it was put in the header or footer.
With that said, not all applicant tracking systems are unable to read information put in the header and footer.
But if you want to be safe, try putting your important contact information (name, phone number, email) outside of the header or footer.
8. Convert Your Resume to a Plain-Text File
Here’s the thing:
The bots that scan your resume prefer plain text files because they’re easier to read.
But humans prefer word documents because they look better.
So since the best resumes are written with two audiences in mind – the bots and the HR managers – we have to cover both bases.
So here’s what you do:
Create your resume using Word document in .doc or a .docx format.
Once you’re done, covert your resume to a plain-text file to see how it looks.
If the plain-text version is missing details, has characters saved wrong, or looks disorganized – try to fix those errors before you submit it.
Once the plain-text copy looks good, you’ll know that the ATS is reading it correctly. Then you can switch back to using a Word document.
9. Spell check, spell check, spell check.
Because who wants to mess up a job opportunity over something so easily avoidable?
10. Balance is Key
It’s worth mentioning again:
When you’re writing your resume, it’s important to always keep both audiences in mind.
Yes, it’s smart to avoid the major mistakes that can cause the ATS to reject your application.
But remember that an actual person will look at your resume once it passes the ATS scan.
Find the balance between clean, concise, and visually appealing.
And don’t forget:
Generic resumes are the enemy of applicant tracking systems. They’ll be the first ones screened out.
Tailor your resume to each job that you’re applying for. Try to incorporate several keywords and phrases from each job description.
(While making sure your writing still sounds natural and readable.)
I know these steps may sound like a lot, but don’t worry – you’ve got this.
Thanks for reading.