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Optimizing Your Resume for an Applicant Tracking System

Many companies use an applicant tracking system, or ATS, to determine if a job applicant is a match for a position. When writing your resume, make sure you optimize it for an applicant tracking system.

An applicant tracking system provides a company a way to manage resume submissions for a position by screening job applicants who have the required skills for a job. It functions by scanning content within a resume to sort and filter resumes based on certain criteria that the company is looking for including:

  • Skills
  • Education
  • Certifications
  • Experience
  • Location
  • Keywords

The more relevant content you have within your resume, the higher the chance it will be filtered to the top of the applicant tracking system and into the hands of a hiring manager.

Tips for optimizing your resume for an applicant tracking system

  • Place your name and contact information at the very top of your resume. Don’t place your contact information in a header since some applicant tracking systems cannot read content placed within a header.
  • Create a streamlined format ensuring consistent spacing and margins, using a professional-looking font of no less than nine points and a larger font for section headers to make each section stand out.
  • Include all relevant information for the past 10-15 years. Applicant tracking systems calculate number of years of experience so ensure you fill in any resume gaps.
  • Add industry keywords throughout your resume. Applicant tracking systems measure the presence and relevance of keywords as they relate to the skills required for each position.
  • Place the dates of employment for each company to the right of the company name since applicant tracking systems scan in company names first. This will maximize how the applicant tracking system calculates your years of experience.
  • Include relevant education, training, certifications, volunteering, professional affiliations and technical skills, especially if the qualifications you have match the qualifications listed within the job announcement.
  • Refrain from using graphics since some applicant tracking systems cannot read graphics.

Creating a resume optimized for an applicant tracking system can be the difference between having your resume on the list of qualified job candidates and not making the cut.

Learn more about optimizing your resume for an applicant tracking system by reading Using Keywords to Boost Your Resume. If you have questions about applicant tracking systems or other aspects of your job search, review the Employment Readiness lifecycle stage or call 800-342-9647 to speak with a career coach.

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