Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) are software programs that scan job descriptions for keywords and match them to job seekers’ qualifications.
If you want your resume to get past ATS and into the hands of a hiring manager, specific formatting steps can help.
First, make sure your job description is accurate. You must include the required qualifications and additional verbiage in the job description.
Use a Clean Design
Using a clean design when formatting your resume is essential for two reasons. First, it helps your document stand out from the sea of other applications, and second, it’s a simple way to get your resume through an applicant tracking system (ATS).
The ATS computer program scans job applications and ranks them based on specific criteria. More than employers, including Fortune 500 companies, use an ATS.
In a world where the number of resumes received for any job posting can outnumber the available positions, ATS has become a common way for recruiters to keep track of applicants. However, this also means that it’s more important than ever to format your resume in a way that will get you noticed by hiring managers and weed out unqualified candidates.
Limit your resume to a few pages to beat the ATS and be concise. A resume that’s too long will be difficult for an ATS to decipher and take up too much space on the page.
Another key to formatting your resume is to avoid fonts that are hard for an ATS to read. Examples include script, Comic Sans, and other fonts with little marks added to the letters.
Instead, choose simple, sans-serif fonts like Arial or Calibri. These fonts are easy to read and help your resume pass the ATS test. You can find many free resume templates online to help you achieve this goal. In addition, formatting your resume to beat applicant tracking systems will ensure that your resume is crafted in a way that will appeal to hiring managers and show off your skills and experience in the best light possible.
Use a Plain Text Format
A plain text resume is a version of your resume that can be read by various computer systems tied to the Internet. This format type is essential for many reasons, including that many large companies run their resumes through scanners to sort and store them based on keywords.
Using a plain text format also ensures that the computer system reading your resume can adequately interpret your information. This is especially important when submitting your resume in the body of an email or posting it on a job board.
It is also necessary when applying to schools for positions in the classroom since many school districts use a computerized applicant tracking system (ATS) to scan and sort their applications. It is essential to ensure that these systems can easily read your resume, which may have difficulty interpreting multi-column layouts and unusual fonts.
Another important reason to use a plain text format is that it will allow you to include relevant keywords that the ATS will recognize. This can be a great way to boost your chances of being seen and hired by the hiring manager, as long as you use keywords directly related to the position for which you’re applying.
Applicant tracking systems are not designed to look for buzzwords like “hard-working,” “determined,” and “go-getter.” However, they search for specific technical terms they have been assigned and told to look for, such as “computer operator” or “IT administrator.” These technical terms should be included throughout your resume, as well. They can’t be stuffed in the same section as your work history but should be placed within a logical context.
Include Relevant Keywords
Including relevant keywords is one of the most effective ways to make your resume stand out. Using these keywords will help your resume be more visible and noticed by recruiters, hiring managers, and the ATS.
Recruiters and hiring managers seek two main keywords in job-related skills and action verbs. The former describes your primary skills (hard and soft) for a specific job, while the latter shows you have what it takes to perform specific tasks in that role.
To find the right keywords for your resume, read the job posting carefully and identify the essential words and phrases that apply to the position. This will help you maximize your chances of getting past the ATS and into the interview phase.
You should also review other industry-specific documents, including websites and job listings when identifying keywords. These may contain various industry-specific terms and acronyms, which will be valuable in finding the right resume keywords for you.
Once you’ve identified the most relevant keywords, it’s time to start writing your resume. You want to include these keywords in your Summary section and others, but you shouldn’t overdo it or use the same keyword in multiple areas.
It would help if you also avoided including keywords like “hard-working,” “determined,” and other meaningless buzzwords that won’t help your resume get passed by the ATS. These words are designed to be used by humans, not computer programs.
Finally, you should include relevant keywords unique to the position and industry. For example, if you’re applying for a software developer job, you should include keywords and another industry-specific language that only people in your field would understand.
Include a Cover Letter
Using your cover letter to sell yourself is as important as highlighting the skills and experience that will make you the best candidate for a specific job. The key is personalizing the letter for each role you apply for and showing why the company is a good fit for you.
Including a cover letter in your resume formatting is a great way to showcase your personality, which will catch the attention of employers and hiring managers. It’s also a chance to show off any skills or achievements not included in your resume, such as using a specific software package.
The first part of the cover letter should be a strong introduction highlighting your qualifications and experiences. It should be able to draw the reader into the rest of the letter by providing relevant information directly applicable to the position for which you’re applying.
This can be done in the first paragraph of the letter or the closing section, depending on the length of the letter and how much space you have. In either case, the opening should include your name, contact details, and address, followed by a paragraph that shows off any achievements or skills that you have that are relevant to the position.
Finally, the final paragraph of your letter should request a meeting or interview and offer a follow-up date that you can get in touch with the employer. It’s also great to thank the hiring manager for their time and consideration.