A Beginner’s Guide to ATS

Creating an ATS-optimized resume is essential in today’s competitive job market, where large enterprises and companies depend on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to browse through thousands of resumes efficiently.

An ATS-friendly resume is strategically crafted to meet the system’s criteria, ensuring it doesn’t get filtered out. Typically, 75% of submissions are eliminated. If your resume doesn’t meet their criteria, you might miss out.

ATS-friendly resumes need to be written not just for people but also for the system to understand. Utilizing Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)-friendly tools, proofreading meticulously, and adapting strategies based on application feedback are vital to a successful approach.

Embracing the challenge and refining your resume and application strategy will help you navigate the competitive job market.

Understanding the Role of ATS

The hiring process is often a time-consuming and challenging experience for both employers and job seekers. To make it more efficient, many companies have adopted applicant tracking systems (ATS).

An Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) is a computer software program designed to manage the hiring process by collecting and organizing many resumes. This not only helps reduce the workload for hiring teams but also enhances the overall efficiency of the process.

One notable advantage of an ATS is its capacity to empower hiring managers. Through the system, they can quickly screen and assess candidates and monitor their progress throughout the hiring process.

It streamlines operations and is a significant time and cost saver for employers. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) plays a pivotal role in simplifying the hiring process, offering employers a powerful tool to manage resumes, screen candidates, and oversee the hiring journey, contributing to a more streamlined and cost-effective recruitment process.

How does ATS Work?

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) operates through a structured four-step process:

Job Requisition Entry

The ATS starts when a job opening is posted, outlining details like the job title, required skills, and experience.

Profile Creation

Using this information, the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) creates a virtual model for the ideal candidate, essentially a checklist of qualifications.

 Resume Parsing and Ranking

As candidates submit resumes, the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) scans and rates them according to how closely they match the ideal candidate profile.

 Hiring Manager Review

The ATS then presents hiring managers with a sorted list of candidates, making it easier for them to identify the best fit for the position.

It’s crucial to note that recruiters often filter resumes using specific keywords and job titles. For instance, if a recruiter is hiring for an Administrative Assistant and begins by searching for that exact term, resumes lacking this keyword might be missed.

To enhance your chances, it’s essential to understand and incorporate these keywords into your resume. Boosting your score increases the likelihood of your resume catching the eye of hiring managers and securing an interview.

How to Create an ATS-Optimized Resume?

In today’s job market, where automation and AI play a significant role, having an ATS-optimized resume is vital. Getting your resume through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can feel overwhelming.

An ATS-optimized resume significantly improves your chances of reaching human recruiters, leading to more interviews and potential job offers.

Crafting an ATS-friendly resume is no longer a complex task. Here are six simple yet highly effective strategies to create an ATS-optimized resume.

Following them will increase your chances of moving on to the interview stage and landing your dream job.

1. Consider a File Format Compatible with ATS

When selecting a file type for your resume, it’s crucial to consider compatibility with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Despite the widespread belief that PDF is the best for maintaining design, it might only sometimes work with all ATS software.

If the system allows PDF uploads, go for it; otherwise, sticking with a Word document in .doc or .docx formats is safer.

Plain-text files are ATS-friendly but might limit your formatting options and look less professional.

A Word document allows you to create an ATS-friendly resume while still visually appealing to recruiters or hiring managers.

So, unless the system specifically requests a PDF, opting for a Word document ensures your resume navigates the ATS effectively while maintaining a professional and visually appealing format.

2. Use ATS-Friendly Keywords

Choosing ATS-friendly keywords for your resume is essential, as these are the criteria the system heavily relies on. It’s important to stress the significance of picking the correct resume keywords.

For example, if a job posting mentions “Google Analytics (GA)” as a required skill, that specific keyword becomes critical for the ATS to filter candidates. If you overlook including it in your resume, your application might be rejected.

To avoid this, carefully compare the keywords in your resume with the exact spelling and usage in the job posting. Even slight differences, like “B.A.” versus “Bachelor of Arts,” can impact the ATS’s ability to match your qualifications.

Paying attention to these details ensures that your resume aligns accurately with the job requirements, increasing your chances of success in the ATS screening process.

3. Summarize Skill Sets to Brief Points

Create a resume summary as it introduces your identity and showcases your expertise, skills, qualifications, and problem-solving abilities.

Utilizing bullet points in this summary enhances clarity for hiring managers and aligns seamlessly with applicant tracking systems (ATS).For example, if you are applying for an entry-level marketing executive position, consider using bullet points to outline key skill summaries:

  • Marketing campaign design
  • Data analysis
  • Sales and account management
  • Solutions-oriented selling
  • Media strategy development
  • Team building/training

By summarizing your work profile and skill sets, your resume is quickly understood your resume and navigated efficiently through automated systems, increasing your chances of making an optimum impression in the competitive job market.

4. Choose Optimal Section Titles

When aiming to create a resume that performs well with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), the titles you choose for each section carry substantial weight. Rather than opting for overly creative or vague headings, go for clear and universally recognized titles.

For instance, use “Work Experience” instead of “Career Journey” and “Education” rather than “Academic Voyage.”These standardized section titles align well with ATS systems, offering clarity and user-friendly navigation for human readers.

Hiring managers and recruiters can swiftly obtain information when presented with familiar section titles. Another effective strategy for intentional resume design is the strategic use of white space, ensuring key points stand out for maximum impact. This intentional approach enhances the overall effectiveness of your resume in both automated and human-driven screening processes.

5. Create a One-Page Resume

A one-page resume is a practical and impactful choice for several compelling reasons.

Firstly, it compels individuals to focus on their most relevant experiences, a crucial aspect in today’s competitive job market.

With hiring managers having limited time for each application, a concise one-page resume ensures that essential qualifications are given due importance.

This format encourages candidates to showcase standout achievements, essential skills, and qualifications while avoiding unnecessary details.

Secondly, a one-page resume is reader-friendly, giving hiring managers clarity and brevity.

This concise format allows them to assess a candidate’s suitability for the role swiftly.

In contrast, longer resumes can overwhelm readers and diminish the impact of essential information.

Opting for a one-page resume will keep it focused, impactful, and tailored to make a lasting impression. Further, it respects the time constraints of hiring professionals but also enhances the overall effectiveness of your job application.

Some Additional Tips for You

Enhance Your ATS-Friendly Resume with These Tips:

Make it Distinctive

Stand distinctive from a crowd by avoiding generic resume templates. Personalize your resume to highlight your unique qualities and make a lasting impression.

Some Additional Tips for You

Enhance Your ATS-Friendly Resume with These Tips:

Make it Distinctive

Stand distinctive from a crowd by avoiding generic resume templates. Personalize your resume to highlight your unique qualities and make a lasting impression.

Avoid Visual Elements

ATS systems struggle with images, graphs, tables, and charts. Avoid incorporating these elements in your resume, as they can be challenging for the system to interpret. Instead, focus on presenting information clearly that the system can easily comprehend.

Incorporating these tips improves your resume’s chances of successfully passing through ATS filters and enhances its professionalism and impact. Keep it unique, polished, and visually straightforward for maximum effectiveness in the job application process.


Understanding and navigating Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) is pivotal in the competitive world of job applications. As a beginner, creating an ATS-friendly resume is your passport to getting noticed by employers.

Prioritize simplicity, clarity, and alignment with job descriptions. Create unique and polished resumes, steer clear of visual complexities, and tailor each application.

In this digital age, making it through the ATS is your first step towards standing out, getting selected for interviews, and, ultimately, landing your dream job. So, embrace the beginner’s guide to ATS and pave your way to professional success.

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