In order to maximize their chances of making it past ATSs, there are a few steps that job seekers should take and a few mistakes that must be avoided. Best practices for creating an ATS-friendly resume include using keywords from the job description within the resume, locating name and contact information at the top of the first page, including a summary paragraph as well as a list of skills/qualifications, using standard fonts such as Arial, Tahoma, and Verdana, and incorporating simple, straightforward formatting. Making the resume too complicated or fancy is the easiest way to run into trouble with ATSs, so be sure to avoid using text boxes, graphics/logos, and headers/footers (although it is acceptable to use a header for listing contact information on the second page of a resume). Also, steer clear of using abbreviations like mgr. for manager or dir. for director. Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that not all ATSs can read PDFs, so if it seems that the company may be using an ATS, be sure to send the resume as a Microsoft Word .doc or .docx file just to be on the safe side.
Although it may seem unfair to think that a soulless piece of technology is most often the initial gatekeeper in the hiring process, don’t be afraid of this brave new world. Rather than gnashing teeth and raging against the lack of humanity in business today, a job seeker should adjust their strategy and adopt the best practices in resume writing to maximize their chances of obtaining their next opportunity. With so many individuals applying for open positions with dubious qualifications, ATS technology isn’t going away anytime soon. Get used to it, and learn to make the robots work for you.