Is Your Resume Applicant Tracking Software System Friendly?

Updated: May 13, 2019


It is a New Year and time to focus on your job search efforts. To have more success with online applications, it is important to follow Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) system guidelines. ATS systems are used by most companies and provide keyword and concept based screening of applicants. The system will rank applicants based on keyword matches and provide “experience points” that demonstrate qualification based on the years performed in your employment history; this is artificial intelligence at its best.


ATS systems will read the text and eliminate the added bling to a resume. Any style font, shading, color, and bullet will be removed when your resume is scanned and leave only the text. Don’t think you can fool a recruiting professional and add hidden keywords in the document in order to obtain more keyword matches. The system will show the text when scanned and you will be removed from the applicant pool.

Spacing is important for ATS systems and each section should have larger spacing between them so the system knows how to convert the content into an e-form (similar to an electronic application format) for recruiter review. With that in mind, each position held should include the company name, even if you have held multiple positons with one company. It may not look pretty, but the software will know these are different positions and provide the appropriate “experience points” based on how many years you performed this function. Make sure that you space between each position to show a division from one to the next.

Using text boxes and tables are tricky and most ATS systems do not read content in them or will jumble the information. Never create an entire resume in a table or in a text box, such as a newspaper style format. More importantly, never put your header/contact information in a text box. Some applicants will include in their resume a text box with a graphic, such as a graph, or even a certification logo, such as Microsoft Certified Professional, but the system won’t read the content and provide any keyword matches, but the hard copy will still show them. There are particular guidelines for using tables, such as in a keyword section. It is a bit complicated and I would recommend not using them at all and create a tabbed–like format instead.

Now that you have more insight into how ATS systems impact applications, you should have more success when applying on-line. GOOD LUCK!


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