Do you want your resume to stand out? Sometimes it feels as though you send your resume into a black hole, waiting for a response that never comes. The uncertainty can be painful. But there are ways to get a leg up on the competition.

Most recruiters skim a resume quickly to see if it lists what they’re looking for. Also, many companies now use automated software that scans resumes looking for skills that match the job. This software is called ATS, or Applicant Tracking System. It reviews your resume even before a human sees it, adding a whole other layer to screening. Hiring managers use this software because it’s an efficient first step in narrowing down candidates.

You can construct your resume so that it can get through the ATS and move on to the next stage: a human. The ATS software is just that – a non-human, a bot – so it will scan a resume and kick out those it doesn’t understand. Here are some tips to help your resume pass through the ATS software.

Tips for Optimizing Your Resume for ATS

ATS Optimization

ATS Optimization

Create your resume as a Word or PDF document

The ATS system gets confused easily. Don’t add any images, text boxes, or special characters. The software only recognizes text. (So no emojis!)

Need help creating a dynamic resume? MassHire Cape and Islands Career Center can help you tailor your resume to specific job postings, and hone in on keywords. We’re a career services agency on the Cape, and our goal is to help Cape Cod residents find long-term, meaningful employment.
Call us at (508) 771-JOBS (5627). We’re here to help.

Use a clean, simple font

Some good fonts are Times New Roman, Calibri, and Arial. Choose an 11 or 12 font size. (Again, confused ATS software means you could be eliminated.)

Use bullet points to organize your content

Be sure to use only dots and nothing fancy as a bullet point.

Check spelling, review grammar

A human can be forgiving here and there, but the software is not. Spelling and grammar mistakes can make you slip in the ranking. It’s a good idea to get someone else to look it over. This adds another set of eyes to catch mistakes.

Use keywords in your resume

If you don’t, you have no chance of the ATS software keeping you as a possible candidate. It relies on finding words on your resume that match the job description. Identifying and using these greatly increases your chances of getting noticed. Be sure to use these keywords appropriately. Fit them in context. Using these words can get you past the ATS software, but they need to make sense when a person reads your resume.

Job Search

Job Search

Tailor your resume to the specific job

It’s easier to send out resume after resume hoping for the best. But you have a greater chance of getting noticed if you work your resume to fit each specific job posting. With appropriate tweaks here and there, your chance of getting to the next step increases.

Job hunting takes stamina, skill, fortitude, and luck. But knowing how to work within the system can only increase your chances of being successful.