How to Write an ATS-Friendly Resume in 2020

Application Tracking Systems (ATS) are developed to filter out most relevant applications for specific job advertisement specially in large companies. Most large companies use ATS as they got thousands of application for each job ad. So they want to screen everything in short time. That’s where ATS comes to play. That is the same reason why you need ATS resume to get hired soon.

Writing an ATS-Friendly Resume in 2020

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) eliminate over 70% of applicants before their resume even reaches a hiring manager. Make sure your application makes the cut by learning how to write an ATS-friendly resume with our expert tips, examples, and resume templates.

ATS automatically scans and processes each job application a company receives, and ranks them according to their relevant qualifications. It then produces a shortlist of qualified candidates to be reviewed by a hiring manager.

If your resume doesn’t keep the requirements of a company’s ATS, your application will likely be rejected before a hiring manager even gets to look at it. So learn how to write well balanced proper ATS friendly resume.

What is an ATS-friendly resume

Simply ATS friendly resume means which are specifically designed to beat application tracking application at the given company. This goal is achieved by writing resumes to find the information more easily by ATS software.

For example, this could mean using an easy-to-read resume format, or removing objects such as tables or images because they’re difficult for the ATS to parse.

Resumes designed to be compliant with ATS software have a much higher chance of getting into the hands of a human hiring manager, which is one step closer to an interview.

How you can beat ATS

I’ll breakdown the whole process in to six major steps that help you to write ATS resume. And ultimately beat the applicant tracking system.

1. Use a standard resume format

There are three primary resume formats used by job seekers today, which are the:

  1. chronological resume format
  2. functional resume format
  3. combination resume format

Most ATS software is programmed to scan your work experience in chronological order, making chronological resumes the most ATS-friendly resume format.

Use a chronological resume to ensure the software can parse your experience section.

2. Name your resume sections

Applicant Tracking Systems are designed to sort your qualifications based on common resume section titles. Using unconventional headings will confuse the ATS and can easily get your resume rejected.

For example, here’s how to properly label your resume to ensure that the ATS can read your headings:

ATS Friendly Resume Headings

  • Work Experience/ Professional Experience
  • Skills
  • Education

ATS Unfriendly Resume Headings

  • Jobs I’ve Done/ What I did
  • Major Abilities/ My strengths
  • Where I Studied

By sticking to common section titles, you can prevent the ATS from placing your qualifications under the wrong categories, or misreading your sections altogether.

3. ATS resume and keywords

The key point of ATS is to match your resume keywords with the targeted job keywords which are selected by company HRs.

To help determine whether your qualifications are relevant to the position, ATS software scans your resume for specific job-related resume keywords. To increase your chance of getting into the interview pool, look through the job listing for these words to include on your resume.

For example, a web developing company hiring a new web developer might use these words in the advertisement to describe the hard and soft skills they’re looking for in a candidate:

  • WordPress
  • PHP
  • CSS
  • C++
  • Javascript
  • Collaborative
  • Innovative thinker

Take note of keywords like these and include them in your resume to ensure that the ATS knows you’re qualified for the job (just don’t lie about your skills).

To see what this looks like in action, the images below contain a real example of a sales associate job description. We’ve highlighted the important keywords applicants for this job opening should include on their resume to pass the ATS:

job description to match keywords

All of the keywords highlighted above have a high potential of being important for the ATS.

4. ATS-friendly resume template

Many job seekers try to use fancy resume templates to help them stand out from the competition. However, templates with graphic elements, tables, or unique fonts are not going to work in ATS software.

Instead, try to incorporate one of the many ATS-friendly resume templates available online. Many templates are built specifically to beat the ATS by using clear, minimal and keyword optimized sections with easy-to-read formats.

For example, here’s an ATS resume template that still looks professional and eye catching:

ats friendly resume templates
ats friendly resume templates

5. Use professional resume font

Most ATS software is built to read more common font types. Using an unusual or unreadable fancy looking font can result in your resume being rendered incorrectly, with large chunks of your information left unreadable.

The best resume fonts to get past the ATS are common and easy to read. When in doubt, stick to basic fonts like

Avenir
Calibri
Cambria
Constantia
Corbel
Franklin Gothic
Garamond
Georgia
Gill Sans
Helvetica

6. Save with proper file type

PDFs  are the most used and and most preferred file type when it comes to file sharing, and are easily understood by any modern applicant tracking system.

However, some older ATS software is unable to pass or read PDF files. So to be safe side, check the job listing and see if the company requires your resume as a specific format. If they specifically mention that your application should be sent as a .doc file, then their ATS is likely older and you should save your resume in .doc format.

Six ATS-friendly resume templates for 2020

The easiest way to ensure that you have an ATS-compliant resume is to start with a well tested format. That’s where resume templates come in handy.

The following five ATS-friendly resume templates are free to download and specifically designed to beat the applicant tracking system. All you have to do is open the template in Microsoft Word and fill in your information.

It’s easy to beat ATS systems if you follow the rules.

Beating the applicant tracking system seems difficult at first. But if you play by rules, it’s not that much hard.

It’s much simpler than most people think. By sticking to a standard check list or handful of standard practices, you can easily improve your chances of getting your resume past the ATS and onto the hiring manager. Just remember to:

  • Use a chronological resume format
  • Remove any graphics or tables with minimal layout
  • Include job-related keywords
  • Type your resume in a common more standard font

And if you are running out of time, simply it’s better to use an ATS-compliant resume template. But whether you use a template or design your application yourself, just making your resume basic and easy to read will guarantee that most modern ATS software will have no problem scanning your application.

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