Our Blog


What is an ATS Optimized Resume? | JobDiva

Dec 21, 2021


Nearly all companies rely on some kind of applicant tracking system to aid their process of recruiting new talent. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) scan and sort through an indefinite number of resumes to create a list of qualified applicants. A human typically does not have to review an application until after an initial scan of applications, requiring extra care to ensure candidates can pass the software’s initial scan. The perfect ATS optimized resume will be as clear as possible, easy to read, and include important keywords to rank a resume among the highest of the group. Review our steps to see how one would create an ATS optimized resume to avoid making mistakes that will toss the resume aside.

Provide Clear Content

  • Do not use confusing section headers. Stick to common sections like education, work experience, and skills. When in doubt, find examples of resume structure used for a similar job position.

  • Avoid unfamiliar abbreviations. If there are abbreviations used in the job description, the ATS may be able to identify them if used in a resume as well. Otherwise, spell out each word, even if it is commonly abbreviated.

  • Tailor the resume to each unique job position if the job description is available. While ensuring truthfulness and accuracy, alter job experience descriptions to match what the specific job is requiring. Just be sure to be honest, and do not duplicate the job description exactly! It is best sprinkle in keywords where appropriate.

  • If still struggling to incorporate the right keywords into a resume, include a summary section to highlight additional qualifications.

Use Simple Formatting

  • Avoid using fancy templates that use shapes, pictures, columns, and boxes. Using this kind of format would be okay if exclusively being seen by a human where one needs to flex creativity. Including graphics may look cool, but they are unreadable to an ATS.

  • Write out important information such as dates and names in a clear format. Not including date ranges of employment may lead to an instant rejection since an ATS can be told to ignore resumes without a certain amount of experience.

  • Submit the resume as a .docx file instead of a PDF. Although many ATS can read PDFs, not all of them can. Although a plain text (.txt) file would work, formatting options are incredibly limited. A Word document file is the best of both worlds, allowing both the ATS and a human HR team member to easily review any resume.

  • Do not put any information in a header or footer in a Word document, including contact information like name, address, and phone number. Some ATS cannot properly read text stored in these sections.

Optimize Your Resume with Keywords

  • Find a way to organically include keywords from the job description into a resume. Forgetting important keywords is a common culprit of application rejection and therefore are vital. Keywords usually include references to skills or experiences mentioned in the job description. Of course, overusing keywords can also be detrimental. A good rule of thumb would be to include an instance of a keyword around three times.

  • Reiterate skills in both a skills section and job experience section.

  • ATS can identify keywords hidden by using white font or resumes overstuffed with them. Trying to “trick” the applicant tracking system to ensure a resume moves forward may find that the opposite will happen.

Other Tips

  • Some applicant tracking systems are starting to review a candidate’s social media presence. Update job information on profiles such as LinkedIn to make sure it is current and includes the proper keywords will offer a boost.

  • Find a platform that offers a free ATS resume scan to preview how the information provided on a resume will read. This will ensure that the resume is compatible, and information is readable. This can determine ahead of time if a resume needs further optimization.

JobDiva: World’s Top Recruiting and Staffing Software

  • Are you a recruiter looking to find out more about the benefits of implementing an applicant tracking system for your organization? Do you have more questions on how you can guide job seekers in a technology-driven job market? If you are looking for speed, quality, and support when it comes to your choice of staffing software, Take a look at JobDiva. JobDiva is the only ATS on the market that can determine how much experience one has with a certain skill by associating it with the amount of time spent at a certain position.

Related Articles
Transform your staffing business