Peer Perspective: Tips on ATS (applicant tracking systems) and your resume

By Sophie Hattery ’16

One of the biggest perks of being a peer in the Career Development Center is that it always keeps us up to date with new tips and information concerning the externship, internship, and job application process. One of the topics we have encountered most recently is how to make your resume ATS-compatible. ATS is a system employed by companies that screens, parses, scores, and ranks uploaded resumes efficiently by matching desired job requirements to resumes that document matching skills and experience. Obviously, you do not want your resume thrown out of the pile from the get go, so we came up with 10 tips to help your resume beat out employers’ new recruiting tool.

  1. Create your Resume in a standard Word Document and save as a ‘.doc’.
  2. Use Simple Formatting and Fonts. No headers, footers, templates, etc. but Bullet points are fine.
  3. ATS doesn’t distinguish page length so a 2-3 page ATS-Resume may increase your score (keyword matches on job requirements, skills, and experience)
  4. Do not Abbreviate Words.
  5. Customize Each Resume by incorporating relevant, targeted keywords and phrases for the position sought. Use exact job title on resume.
  6. Include a Career Summary at the Top of your Resume. This should be a headline (ex: Marketing Manager) followed by a tightly-written 3-5 line Career Summary of your years of experience, knowledge and expertise. This is a place to market yourself and possible score more keyword matches.
  7. Add Skills List in “Comments” or “Additional Data” fields if the ATS does not have a field/box for skills. Avoid leaving “Additional Information” fields blank.
  8. If a company ATS asks you to take an optional assessment, take it… is it really “optional”? Probably not.
  9. Before hitting “submit”, proof, re-proof, print, and date your application and job description. A printed copy of your resume will be a useful tool when preparing for an interview.
  10. Follow-up with your online application by personally emailing HR, the manager, or your internal contact (if you have one).

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