ATS Resume Templates
Applicant tracking systems – or ATS – are the first hurdle your resume needs to overcome when applying for a job at a large corporation. Born out of the need for hiring managers to screen the hundreds, or even thousands, of job applications received for every open position, the ATS is the first critic your resume will face.
ATS-Friendly Resume Format
Corporations, government agencies, nonprofits, and recruiting agencies are now using software to scan, rate, and manage job applications, simply due to the sheer volume of applications they receive. So, if you have a resume that is not in an ATS-friendly format, it is likely you won’t be contacted for an interview.
Chances are, if you are applying online for a job, your resume is going to be screened and ranked by an ATS. Often, when starting the application process online, the system prompts you to create a profile. Then, it will ask for some personal information, and then for you to upload your resume. Once uploaded, the ATS goes to work, determining if your professional experience, qualifications, and education match the job description.
At this point, if you’ve uploaded an ATS-friendly resume that you’ve personalized for this particular job, your resume has a good chance of making it through the resume robot and eventually being viewed by the hiring manager.
Optimizing for Applicant Tracking Systems
FILE FORMAT, TABLES, COLUMNS, IMAGES
While ATS used by organizations today continue to evolve with technology, they still have significant limitations. Something as simple as where your name appears, and whether your contact information is formatted correctly, can affect relevance ranking of your resume because the applicant tracking system might misread your content. Low relevancy score would limit your chances of moving forward in the recruitment and hiring process.
Here are the top 7 limitations of the software.
- File format: Not all file formats can be read by applicant tracking systems; even some of the more popular formats like .pdf. When prompted to upload your resume, it is best to follow the directions exactly – if you are asked for a resume in .doc format, be sure that is what you supply.
- Tables, text boxes, and columns. Automatic tracking systems cannot scan and decipher the information that’s inside these particular formats, meaning that data won’t make it into your applicant profile.
- Images. Just like tables, images and graphics also present a problem for ATS programs. It is best to keep them off your resume or hide them in the header. Most ATS cannot see information in headers and footers, so if you want to include graphics for the human viewers, keep them in those sections.
- Headers and footers. And speaking of headers and footers, anything placed in these areas is invisible to the ATS and will not be used to create your ATS profile. Never put important information in these sections.
- Borders, lines, and symbols. While some systems are becoming more adept at accepting advanced formatting, there is no way to guarantee a resume with borders, lines, or symbols will be read and scanned. Avoid using these elements when creating an ATS-friendly resume.
- No special characters. Like tables, images, and other graphics, the ATS is not going to be able to decipher special characters. This includes, believe it or not, accents. So, avoid using accents because, for example, décor could instead turn out to be d*$co@.
- Incorrect spellings. When searching your resume for certain keywords or phrases, they will be overlooked if they are misspelled. Manually proofread your resume before submission to check for spelling. Know too that spell checkers can’t alert you if you typed “marital” instead of “martial”.
KEYWORDS AND PHRASES
To increase your chances of getting through an applicant tracking system, do an in-depth review of the job description and the company you are applying to, paying particular attention to keywords used so you can properly optimize the text of your resume.
In much the same way that an internet search leads you to Hloom and our vast library of templates, the keyword scanning function of an ATS can lead hiring managers to you. Some reports indicate that ATS systems are looking for matches of 75% and above, while other reports suggest that major corporations that receive thousands of resumes every day prefer 80% or above matches.
Researching the company and the job description, and including appropriate keywords and phrases, are essential to your success. In the functional ATS-friendly resume where you are focusing the reader on your relevant skills, use the same tone, phrasing, and verbiage that is in the job description. Taking the Customer Care Manager example from above, if the job description says:
Although the two bullets say virtually the same thing, the ATS is looking for the word recruiting, not recruitment. You don’t want to miss your opportunity to move forward in the process just because of different word choices.
While researching the position, be sure you pay close attention to the actual job title. For instance, if you are a Customer Service Manager in your current job, but the job title is for a Customer Care Manager, be sure that you include “Customer Care Manager” somewhere in your resume.
In the same vein, if you are a Project Manager, and are applying for the position of Program Manager, the job descriptions and keywords may be on point, but your resume may be kicked out as the ATS is looking for exact matches.
Again, it is imperative that you precisely match your education and any special certifications, letter for letter. When the ATS scans your resume to identify your level of education or some specialized training, you want to be absolutely sure you get credit for them; even apostrophes and periods can sway the ATS against you. Consider:
The safest way to handle this deficiency of the ATS is to phrase it exactly like it appears in the job description, and include one other from the example. Such as:
An ATS-friendly resume doesn’t have to be dull or boring. Remember, if you have included the keywords and phrases the company is looking for, and your background and education meet their requirements, a person at some point is going to review your resume. Therefore, the resume needs to be easy to read, tell your story, and sell them on all of the elements that make you perfect for the job. Here are the formatting tools that are accepted by most of today’s applicant tracking systems:
- Bold. Bold text is perfectly fine and recommended for your name, in section headers, job titles, and other areas of your resume that you want to emphasize.
- Capitalization. Like bolding, using capitalization to add emphasis and draw attention is acceptable, and the ATS should have no problem translating it to your applicant profile.
- Bulleted Lists. If you use a standard round bullet, the ATS will be able to read it just fine; just be sure to not use arrows or other special characters, as those will present a problem.
- Fonts. Choose a standard font like Arial or Verdana, and keep the point size from 10 to 12.
- Colored Text. The use of colors in your content is okay; the system will still be able to read the colored words and translate them to your profile.
ATS-Friendly Resume Examples
When organizations started to move their job application process online, the typically requested format was .txt, which is the most basic. In a .txt file, there isn’t any formatting at all; originally, tabs weren’t even allowed, you had to create space using the space bar. Fortunately, with the advent of the more advanced ATS programs in use today, we can use certain formatting elements to make resumes more attractive.
While the Applicant Tracking System is going to pull information from your resume and place it into your profile where it wants it to be, your resume has to appeal to hiring managers too, because a person, not a machine, will have the last say.
While the digitized version of your resume is what can get you through the system and to the interview, many ATS allow hiring managers to print your original resume for review. Some HR departments will provide your ranking, the digitized version of your resume, and the resume you uploaded, while others will only provide your ranking and the digitized version. Chances are, regardless of the format you select, the ATS is going to pull it into a chronological format.
If you believe that a combination or functional resume puts your expertise in the best light, don’t worry that the ATS is going to change it to a chronological for scanning; if given both the original and the digitized version, the hiring manager will want to see what you believe makes you ideal for the position.
The vast majority of resumes today are in a chronological format. This simply means that your work history appears with your most current job at the top of the section. Many corporations and recruiters still prefer this format as it allows them to quickly identify gaps in employment, and to quickly identify career growth.
Chronological resumes are an excellent choice for mid-level or above professionals who have an impressive work history to display. If you tend to stay in jobs or with the same company for extended periods of time, you can highlight that here.
In a chronological ATS-friendly resume, you can be as verbose as you need to be about your job history. ATS software doesn’t limit your space for the distinctive sections, so this is the ideal way to incorporate the essential keywords and phrases into your resume.
Functional resumes allow you to emphasize the skills, accomplishments, and achievements that you want to place at the forefront your interviewer’s mind. Many job seekers with gaps in their work history select this format to highlight their capabilities and skills.
Take the best elements from a chronological resume and combine it with the best elements of a functional resume, and the result is a combination resume. In a combination resume format, your skills, achievements, objectives, education, and work history all share the spotlight. This format complements the accomplishments and progressive work history of mid-career professionals and executives.
Select this format if you are changing industries or career disciplines, or when you have significant experience, technical skill, education, and training that will impress hiring managers. Use this as your platform to communicate how your background and education meet or exceed the requirements of the position you are applying for.
You can conquer the system!
We know that the idea of having to conquer the resume robots just to get to human eyes is challenging, and adds to the job hunt stress. That’s why our team has spent hours designing and testing resumes that are both ATS friendly, and hiring manager friendly. Remember, if the ATS can’t read your resume because of its file format, or formatting features like columns and tables, or for other reasons, your chances of getting to the interview are severely limited.
While it may be off-putting that a machine is scanning and ranking all of the applicants’ resumes, when you understand the process and use a tested ATS-friendly resume, you’ll have an advantage over everyone who didn’t take the time to do the same. Remember that the ATS ranks and scores every resume against the job description; use that piece of knowledge to your advantage.