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Should I optimize my resume for ATS?

Updated: Aug 2, 2022

Job Applicant
What do Applicant Tracking Systems do?

Applicant Tracking System software systems have become common place in the recruitment industry, increasing both efficiency and productivity of recruiter workflows by allowing recruiters to sort, manage and report on resumes submitted for a position in a matter of seconds. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are designed to screen resumes based on the keywords included in them; making sure that candidates' qualifications align with the specific requirements outlined within each job description and do not include incorrect, irrelevant, or redundant information.

Keyword searches using a keyboard and cell phone

An Applicant Tracking System searches for keywords and phrases in a candidate's resume. The software uses keyword matching to determine which resumes best match the available job positions. Non-compliant resumes are eliminated from the recruitment workflow to prevent further manual review by recruiters.

What percentage of companies use ATS Systems?

Applicant Tracking Systems are used by 99% of Fortune 500 companies according to a recent study and also found that 35% - 66% of small to mid-sized organizations are now using Applicant Tracking Systems, often with additional HR software. The most recent decade has seen an exponential growth in technology, with the last five years alone boasting innovations like driverless cars and artificial intelligence, ATS's have been on the scene and developing since 1991. The use of ATS continues to expand, with the number of non-ATS users expected to decrease steadily over the next five years.

How many resumes do companies receive for each job?

Stack of resumes

Smallbusinessgenius writes companies received an average of 250 resumes for each job opening. Applicant Tracking Systems allow recruiters to scrutinize all submissions in a matter of seconds instead of devoting hours or even days reading piles of resumes, making their workflows more efficient and the whole candidate experience much less frustrating.

5 reasons I should optimize my resume:

  1. Applicant Tracking Systems have become a part of the industry standard, so you will be disadvantaged by not having your resume optimized for Applicant Tracking Systems.

  2. Applicant Tracking Systems search for keywords and phrases within candidate resumes to determine if the resume best matches the available job position. Applicant

  3. Application systems scores or ranks applicants to see how much you align with the job description. Applicant tracking systems also search the internet for your information, including social media sites. Applicant Tracking Systems are used by over 90% of Fortune 500 companies and growing among medium-sized and small organizations as well.

  4. ATS can check if the candidate is using false job experience making sure the candidate is qualified for the job. The systems can collect information about education, skills, and other available information.

  5. Most ATS will update your information each time you submit a new or altered resume this is good because recruiters can track what you are doing. They will check your old resume with the new one to see what has changed.

Resume bullseye board

Applicant Tracking Systems have become a staple in the recruitment industry. If your resume is not optimized for Applicant Tracking Systems, you will put yourself at a serious disadvantage. Make sure that your resume includes the keywords from the job description, and you will be ahead of 95%+ of other applicants.


Do I still need to upload a cover letter as well and does the ATS also track keywords in your cover letter?

Yes, you should always upload a cover letter with your resume. ATS's do not track keywords in cover letters yet but the newest systems are integrating this function.

What do you think about tables? They organize information easily, but I have heard ATS doesn't pick up information arranged that way. What do you suggest?

Do not use tables because ATS cannot read them. Using bullets is ok to help organize your information.

What happens in ATS when you update your resume, will your latest information overwrite your old information, or will both be stored?

If you update your old resume and submit it again, recruiters will check both resumes to see what changed. Updates to your original resume should be updated as a new document.

What are some tips to avoid being screened out by ATS?

Avoid slang or abbreviations that the Applicant Tracking System may not recognize. Don't try to "trick" the system with technical language that a recruiter may not understand.

How important is it to have a LinkedIn profile optimized for Applicant Tracking Systems?

Having an optimized LinkedIn profile is essential. Recruiters use this information to guide them when reading resumes, so make sure you have all your information updated and consistent on your profile.

What are good fonts ATS can easily read?

ATS can read most fonts, but an easy-to-read font such as Arial or Calibri are most recommended.

✪ Check us out! Click the link for your 15-minute complimentary call click: Schedule Now ✪ Click: ATS-Compliant Resumes for help.

Colorful resume writing image

Bobbiette Swanson owns Soar Career Services. She is an award-winning, former Certified Senior Executive Recruiter of over 20 years. Bobbiette's experience included placing direct-hire professionals with Fortune 500 companies nationally. She is passionate about ensuring her clients receive the utmost in professional services. Bobbiette is accomplished across diverse industries that uniquely qualify her to provide her clientele the services of: Interview Preparation, Resume Writing, Career Coaching, and other career services.

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