Make Your Resume Stand Out from the Crowd: And to Robots, Too


Applying for a new job? Nowadays, the first person looking at your resume is usually not a recruiter, but a robot, otherwise known as an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Below are some tips for creating more reader-friendly resumes so that it’s actually passed onto the recruiter for an interview.

These ATS save employers time and money by sifting through hundreds or even thousands of resumes, making Human Resources job much simpler. In order for your resume to be one that makes it across their desk, you need to embrace the digital world and leave some of the old standards behind.

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Use Context not just Keywords  

While traditionally, you may have flooded your resume with keywords, it’s now better to pay closer attention to actual context because that’s what the ATS picks up on when it scans it. It is important to use specific keywords that pertain to certain job descriptions you had but realize that these ATS robots aren’t just looking for the keywords. They’re also interested in how they relate to your overall experience, such as did you get certified in CPR and First Aid two months ago or last year? They also look closely at how much you use your skills. Have you worked in an office doing medical transcription for the last years or did you do it ten years ago?


Use Simple Formatting on Resumes

If your resume is flooded with fancy fonts, graphics, and business logos, you may actually hinder your chances of your resume being seen by human eyes. This is because the ATS has a difficult time sifting through heavily-formatted resumes and parsing the information into proper categories. Therefore, it is important that you choose web-friendly fonts like Arial or Verona, and skip the fancy stuff. In addition, ATS robots may glitch if your contact information is in a header so consider entering at the top of the page, but not in a separate header section.

When organizing your work history, begin by listing your employer’s name, your title, and the dates you worked there. It’s very important that you completely spell out words like Manager instead of Mgr. Abbreviations in resumes confuse the ATS robot (and sometimes they confuse human eyes too).

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Other Tips to Win Over the Resume Robot

When your resume is complete, upload it if it gives you a choice between uploading or cutting and pasting the document. As you upload it, the robot will often save it in the best format, often a rich text format, making it easier for the ATS to read it and put into different sections.

Recruiters also caution against sending multiple resumes because the ATS robots can pick out discrepancies if you send out two different versions, which won’t look good.

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you beat the system as you write your next winning resume.