Many medium- and large-sized companies use computerized Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to streamline their hiring process. Once your resume is uploaded into the system, the ATS breaks it down into categories (education, experience, skills, etc.) then scans for specific keywords relevant to the job posting to determine if it should be passed along to a recruiter.
So, what can you do to increase your chances of getting your resume past the ATS and into the hands of an actual hiring manager? Here are some tips that will help.

  1. Resume keyword optimization helps identify the skills and keywords that should be kept in and prioritized. Look at the position title and required skills to identify keywords and incorporate them throughout your resume. Be careful not to overdo it, as keyword “stuffing” will come across as unnatural and can do more harm than good. Services such as Wordle or Tagcrowd can be used to help identify keywords.
  2. Use standard headings such as work experience, education, and interests to ensure the ATS places your information into the proper categories.
  3. Proof your resume to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Such errors typically cause resumes to be rejected immediately. Remember, it’s not enough just to run spell-check. Try a free online tool like Grammarly to scan your resume for contextual spelling mistakes that a spell checker won’t pick up. You can also print out your resume and read through it and/or have a friend read it over for you.
  4. Be cautious about abbreviating words, titles, or certifications on your resume. If you do abbreviate, make sure to spell out the abbreviation as well, for example, Professional in Human Resources (PHR).
  5. Be mindful of how you name your resume. Even though it might get through the ATS, recruiters will often ignore unprofessional resume names. Use your first and last name, or a combination of the two. You should also add either the word “resume” or the position you seek, for example, MarySmithResume.doc.