Don’t let your resume fall into the ATS black hole.
Resumes & Cover Letters

How to Write a Resume to 'Beat the Bots'

Don’t let your resume fall into the ATS black hole.

Here's a fact that's not so fun: When you apply to a job, a recruiter or manager might never set eyes on your resume. Instead, your hard work might get tossed out and never seen again.

In fact, this automatic rejection is the case for approximately 75 percent of job applications. Why? Because 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies use software known as applicant tracking systems (ATS) to automatically sort through resumes. Also referred to as "resume bots," ATS software methodically weeds out the least qualified candidates. Even if you are qualified for the position, if your resume is not formatted to be scanned properly by the software, it can be rejected for failing to pass through the system.

To find out to how beat these resume bots, TopResume analyzed the resumes of 1,000 professionals in various industries with at least eight years of experience. The analysis uncovered some simple techniques you can use to slide your resume past the bots and into the hands of a human.

1. Don't put important information in the header and footer

It might be difficult to showcase your successes on an 8.5-by-11-inch space, but don't create extra room by stuffing important information into your headers or footers. Some ATS software won't acknowledge that space, meaning it could miss out on vital personal information.

A simple fix is to keep all your information in the body of the document and expand your margins slightly.

2. Work in keywords

You might find list after list of resume buzzwords online, but the bots aren't concerned about that fluff. Rather, the applicant tracking system judges your skills and experiences based on keywords featured in similar job listings.

Figure out which keywords are important by collecting three to five job descriptions similar to the one you're applying for. Run these descriptions through a word-cloud generator like Wordle. The most frequently used terms will pop out in big letters. Insert those, where relevant, into your text.

3. Don't embed graphics

Picture a juicer. You feed a couple of carrots into it, a handful of blueberries, and some ice. Unfortunately, your juicer probably just broke because it couldn't process the ice.

The same thing will happen when a resume with graphics runs through an ATS. These systems have a hard time processing charts, images, and graphics. Instead, leave those elements for your personal website or portfolio, and keep your resume clean and simple.

4. Save your resume in the right format

Once you feel as though your resume is ready to beat the bots, go ahead and click save. Now this part is very important: Don't save it as a PDF.

Unless the application explicitly says PDFs are acceptable, TopResume's career expert, Amanda Augustine, suggests submitting your resume as a Word document. This allows you to maintain a bit of creativity while still passing through the system.

Above all, remember less is more, so keep the design and formatting simple to help the bots focus on what's important: your skills and experience. With these tips, you resume will be seen by more hiring recruiters — not the black hole of the ATS.

Content sourced from Talent Inc.
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