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Cracking the Code: How to Outsmart the Robot Overlords and Get Your Resume Noticed

Updated: Jan 18


7/10/2023


In today's highly competitive job market, standing out from the crowd is essential. However, before your resume can impress a human recruiter, odds are high that your resume will be reviewed first by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). This software is designed to sift through the pile of job candidates by filtering resumes based on the employer’s keywords and criteria. To increase your chances of getting your resume noticed and recommended to a human, here are six tips to optimize it for ATS compatibility.


1. Tailor your resume for each job application

Carefully review the job description and identify the keywords, skills, and qualifications the employer seeks. Incorporate these keywords throughout your resume, especially in the skills section, the work experience list, and the summary statement. Avoid buzzwords and jargon; focus on using specific industry-related terms that align with the job requirements.


2. Use an ATS-friendly format

Opt for a simple, clean format to ensure the ATS quickly reads your resume. Avoid using complex tables, images, or graphics, as they can confuse the system and lead to errors. Stick to standard fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri, and use a font size between 10 and 12 points. Keep your resume's structure consistent, using clearly labeled sections for easier parsing by the ATS.


3. Optimize your headings and section titles

ATS systems focus on headings and section titles to identify relevant information. Use standard headings such as "Work Experience," "Education," and "Skills" unless the job posting uses different terminology; in that case, adapt your titles accordingly. Subheadings within sections can help the ATS navigate your resume more effectively.


4. Emphasize relevant keywords and skills

Keywords are vital in determining whether your resume passes the ATS scan. Highlight your most relevant skills and qualifications by incorporating them throughout your resume. However, avoid keyword stuffing, which means excessively cramming keywords without proper context. The ATS can recognize this tactic and may penalize your application. Strike a balance between keyword optimization and maintaining a natural, readable flow.


5. Include a plain text version of your resume

In addition to submitting a well-designed resume in PDF or Word format, provide a plain text version. To create a plain text version, remove any formatting, special characters, or columns, and save it as a plain text (.txt) file. Submitting both versions ensure compatibility with a wide range of ATS software, many of which prefer plain-text formats to extract information.


6. Review and proofread your resume

Before sending your resume, review it for typos, grammatical errors, and inconsistencies. ATS systems can penalize resumes with such mistakes. Additionally, check that all relevant contact information, such as your email address and phone number, is accurate.

Following these essential tips can significantly increase your chances of getting your resume into the hands of human recruiters. Remember that while many companies utilize an ATS, always prioritize crafting a well-written and tailored resume that effectively highlights your skills and experiences. With perseverance and attention to detail, you can enhance your chances of landing that coveted interview and moving closer to your dream job.


Play to Win,

Dena

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