One of the biggest complaints resume writers hear is a client not getting one single callback from their resume. They have poured hours into writing, formatting, editing and posting their resume but get no results. As expert resume writers, we realize that most jobseekers aren’t well informed on how to beat the ATS (Applicant Tracking System). Understanding how these systems work and how to strategically plan the right keywords is vital to writing a resume.


What is an ATS?


ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System. According to experts, over 98 percent of Fortune 500 companies use ATS to scan resumes. This is a computer system used to help with recruiting by HR and other hiring officials. The main purpose is to cut down on the time a human needs to spend reading over resumes. Some of the most common ATS are Taleo, Workday and SAP. Not only do these systems scan for keywords, but they provide hiring officials with statistics and data on applicants found through the application process.


The Downsides of ATS for Jobseekers


Applicant Tracking Systems are great for companies that can garner 100s to 1000s of applicants for one job posting. Cutting down on routine or monotonous jobs is always a benefit. However, it can make a jobseeker’s search much harder. These systems are scanning for specific keywords included in a resume. A person can be the most qualified candidate for the role, but if their resume doesn’t include the right keywords they simply won’t get seen. On top of that, applications associated with the ATS are usually lengthy and timely to fill out. This is one of the biggest complaints we hear from jobseekers. Even more so, sometimes when a person uploads their resume, it doesn’t quite fill out the application properly. This means that they have to go in and manually write or cut and paste their info that they already took hours to format onto a resume.


How to Beat the ATS


A large portion of our job as expert resume writers is knowing how to beat the ATS. We utilize specific skills and strategies to make this happen.


Find the keywords- The keywords that the ATS are using are usually always included in the job posting. It is important to go through the posting and highlight the skills that pop out to you. Then you want to make sure the verbiage in your resume matches. If the job posting only uses the initials HR instead of spelling out Human Resources, make sure that is in your resume. If the qualifications emphasize soft skills like remaining punctual or working with concurrent deadlines, be sure to include that in your resume.


Format Your Resume Properly- Formatting your resume properly takes a bit of know-how. You have to be sure your resume doesn’t have columns or cells, to start with. You also want to make sure your dates are mm/yyyy – mm/yyyy or the application might not pick it up. Another aspect is making sure that any design work, fancy headers, charts or other features are ATS friendly. If not, you will run into the issue of having to manually enter your resume into the system. Our team provides secondary documents in a specific format for this reason.


Other Aspects of a Well-Written Resume


The application process doesn’t stop at the ATS. Knowing how to beat the ATS is the beginning of the process. You also want to be sure your resume is well written, easy to lookover and attractive. Once your resume lands in an HR representative’s hands, you want to be sure that they will like what they see. As experts, we are aware that hiring officials look at a resume for six seconds before deciding to move you on in the process or not. This means a level of perfection is required for your resume. Take a look at our checklist to make sure your resume meets these standards:


  • The resume is free of typos
  • The bullet points and margins are all lined up
  • If you use different fonts, 2-3 fonts is the limit
  • Page 2 has a nice header with your name and the page number
  • The overall look is clean and professional
  • Your timeline is easy to follow and look through
  • There are strong accomplishments that stand out with a chart or color accent


If these high standards overwhelm you be sure to take it one step at a time. Be sure to browse through professionally written resume samples. You can also take the extra step of hiring a resume writer. This means unloading the stress and work onto an expert that will get the job done right. Feel free to reach out to our team with your questions or to set up an appointment!



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