get your resume past an ats

What is an applicant tracking system (ATS) and how do you get past it?

What do you know about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)?

Job seeking can sometimes be compared to throwing your resume into a black hole. You go through 100 listings on any job search website and complete the online application with zero results. Ever have that happen?

The problem is that you’re probably not putting the correct keywords into your resume.

When you hit “Submit” on an online application, it isn’t magically emailed to the hiring manager. It goes through this computer system that scrubs your resume for specific keywords that are found in the job description posted by the company. It also looks for years of experience and education, among other things.

Know your audience & have a back-up plan

Your resume must be written to impress 2 audiences — the ATS and a hiring manager. Having a document that speaks to a computer and a human being can be a daunting task. Many resume writers will tell you that you need to stand out in the sea of sameness by adding some personality to your resume through design.

The name of the game is to always have your resume at the top of the stack.

Some resume No-No's related to the ATS

Once you’ve narrowed down your target career path and are getting ready to apply for jobs it’s important to be sure your resume will not be rejected. 

Here are some tips to help make sure your resume won’t end up in a digital nowhere land:

  • Jargon and buzzwords: (1) they are probably not lending any value to your resume that will get you past the ATS and hiring managers hate seeing “experienced go-getter,” self-motivated,” and “dedicated, reliable individual.”
  • Overly designed resumes: Many job seekers feel like they’ll stand out from the crowd by having a creative-looking resume. The fact is that ATS cannot properly parse information from these resumes as they can’t read the information in text boxes, graphs, charts, tables, nor can they read images. If the ATS can’t read it, it will be rejected.
  • Font & margins: Make sure you’re using the right font, keep the font size to at least 10pt, and have margins that are no less than 1/2″. Some acceptable fonts are: Calibri, Cambria, Garamond, Tahoma, Trebuchet, and Veranda.

Help is available, if you need it. Send us your current resume for a free review.

Of course, all of this can be a lot to take in — especially considering that we haven’t even talked about accomplishments, certifications, publications, honors, and projects. If you need help, drop us a line.

    how to tailor your resume to different jobs

    How to tailor your resume to different jobs

    Perhaps the biggest mistake job seekers make is to use the same resume for multiple job applications. Sending the same resume over and over again is what causes companies to ghost job seekers, leaving you with almost no chance of landing an interview.

    To stand a better chance, you need to know how to tailor your resume to different job descriptions. Start with a base resume and then customize it to match a particular job description before sending it.   

    Why must you tailor your resume?

    Tailoring your resume demonstrates how your skills and experience match the job. It is what recruiters look for and shows that you’re the best candidate for a particular position. In addition to crafting a resume that shows impressive you are as a person, hiring managers want your resume to show that you are a good fit for their specific job opening. So how do you do it?

    Use keywords to tailor your resume

    Learning to tailor your resume with the relevant keywords gives you a better chance of getting a callback. With every job, you will find specific duties listed in the job description. You have to showcase how you can carry out these duties. For instance, if you’re applying to a position for Software Developer, a company will likely require you to be proficient in Java.

    A critical thing to note is that leveraging keywords will help you convince the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Ideally, you use the job advertisement and customize the following sections:

    Resume title

    Your resume title is also known as the resume headline, and it is a preview of your resume in a few words. For every resume you send out, ensure that the title is specific to that position. It is a great way to modify your resume to target the job. If you apply for the Software Developer position, ensure that the two words appear in your resume title.

    Summary profile

    The position summary is the overview of the duties the job will entail. You can use it to get some keywords to include in your profile paragraph. It goes hand in hand with the responsibilities section, which gives the duties in more detail.

    The best thing is to ensure that your resume indicates that you can perform these tasks as required. The tasks will revolve around your soft skills and hard skills. Soft skills are a representation of your personality and include work ethic, adaptability, and confidence. Hard skills are those that you acquire through education and experience. For a Software Developer position, for example, they can include Java, C++, and web design. 

    Remember that you are not just listing the skills. You must provide details and the achievements around the skills.

    Core competencies

    This is the list of skills just below your profile section. While the skills you possess are important, it’s MORE important to target your resume to the job description. As you compare your current skills list with that of the job posting make note of keywords that you’re not using and include them here.

    Use your employment history to tailor your resume

    It might be tempting to leave your employment history intact but editing it can give you a better chance at getting callbacks. Make sure to align your achievements with the job in question.


    The ATS will scan your resume for things like years of experience, education, and relevant keywords. Pay close attention to the requirements and customize your base resume with relevant keywords to avoid being rejected by the scanners.

    Help is available

    Always Typing has built a reputation for crafting resumes that get past the ATS and impress hiring managers. Upload your resume below to find out if it will win the interview.