Applicant Tracking Systems

It’s critical to understand how to get past the applicant tracking system (“ATS” for short) if you’re applying for jobs online.

Before a human person views your resume, the majority of businesses utilize these automated tools to scan it for keywords and other important information. Your resume might not even be read if it doesn’t have the correct information provided in a way that the ATS can find it.

So, beating the applicant monitoring system is the first step if you want to get the interview.

Fortunately, this post will cover everything you require to know about how the system functions and how to successfully navigate it using your CV.

What Do Applicant Tracking Systems Do?

To save an employer time, applicant tracking systems evaluate resumes using filters and keyword analysis to identify the most qualified, most suitable candidates. This saves the company a tonne of time and enables them to quickly screen the applicants who are most qualified for the position as many online job posts receive over 100 applications.

Unfortunately, these automated algorithms do “mistakes” or exclude qualified individuals because they aren’t perfect. You might be the ideal candidate for a position, yet your resume might not get beyond the ATS.

Let’s now discuss ways to prevent this from happening to you.

Beating the ATS: How to Get Your Resume Past the Applicant Tracking System

1. Keep the Formatting Simple

Use simple style and headers while writing a resume in Microsoft Word. It’s acceptable to use bold, italic, and bullet points (in moderation).

However, employing rows, tables, columns, and other specific formatting is where I find job seekers struggle with online job applications.

A two-column layout is common among the most recent resume templates that are for sale online (or offered without charge). They have a thin side column for your contact information and other information, along with a “primary” column.

Although certain applicant tracking systems and internet applications can read this tiny column, these designs look fantastic. Therefore, even though it might appear slick, it won’t help you get through automated job application processes.

If you’re worried about how to bypass application monitoring systems, keep your resume short and to the point with only one column.

If you want more details on how to construct a resume, check out the whole post here.

2. Use a Common Font like Calibri

Some overly aggressive advice on resume typefaces to bypass applicant tracking systems is available. For instance, I’ve seen comments on LinkedIn from folks who advise job searchers to only use Times New Roman.

That is untrue. No business would employ an ATS program that only supports one typeface. But it’s wise to stick with a widely used font. For instance, I would steer clear of Google Fonts and instead use a typeface that is common to most word processing systems.

Personally, I like Calibri, which is often the default in more recent iterations of Microsoft Word.

Arial, Georgia, and Helvetica are further recommended fonts.

And I truly advise staying away from Times New Roman. Although the ATS can read it, the typeface has a tendency to make your resume appear quite dated, and you don’t want to give hiring managers that impression.

3. Tailor Your Resume for the Job Posting

Don’t send out a generic resume for each job if you want to impress hiring managers and get past the applicant tracking system. A company’s applicant tracking system is configured to seek particular traits based on the needs of the position. The easiest method to determine what talents they are looking for is to read the job description and modify your resume accordingly.

It is explained in this article.

You can add information from the job description that wasn’t on your resume and eliminate information that is superfluous or irrelevant, as stated in the aforementioned article.

On your resume, sometimes less is more. If anything is unrelated to the job you applied for, you are simply “burying” the information that is more important to your ability to be hired. And that won’t help you land a job or pass online application screening.

The most pertinent information can be moved to the front of the list by rearranging your information. Think about doing this for the abilities, bullets, etc. on your resume.

Not only will this assist you in overcoming the applicant tracking system with your CV, but it will also increase the likelihood that the hiring manager will wish to conduct an in-person interview with you.

4. Include Keywords Directly from the Job Description

You may determine what keywords to include on your resume by tweaking it (as I discussed above) to get through online application systems.

Almost all ATS/application systems will analyze your resume for words from the job description, particularly those relating to hard skills (like Customer Service, Web Design, and Digital Marketing).

Don’t go overboard. Because a person reading your resume will ultimately decide whether to interview you, you should always write your resume with this reader in mind.

However, using a few keywords from the job description in your resume is the best approach to get past the filters used by employers to screen resumes submitted through online job applications.

Your bullet points, job titles, abilities, introduction paragraphs, and more can all contain keywords.

Additionally, it will be helpful whenever you speak with a real person. Ctrl + F is frequently used by hiring managers and recruiters to quickly find keywords on a resume. Therefore, you’ll have a better chance of impressing them if you include the top keywords and talents that they’re seeking from the job description.

Bottom line: Including relevant keywords in your resume will increase your chances of being noticed by both the applicant tracking system (ATS) and a real human.

5. Use Long and Short Variations of Keywords

When feasible, include both long and short forms of keywords in your resume.

Master of Business Administration, as an illustration.

If you have the chance to change the way you’re stating something, that will increase your chances of getting through to a human reader because you never know which keyword the employer placed into their online application system.

6. Use a Chronological Resume Format

Use a chronological resume structure as another crucial step if you want to get your resume past applicant tracking systems.

This entails listing your prior positions in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent. Due to the fact that hiring managers and recruiters favor this resume format, I only suggest using it. As a recruiter, I detested “functional resumes” and other documents that obscure employment dates.

Employers and recruiters want to see a list of your previous positions, the dates, and bullet points detailing what you accomplished and learned at each one. Additionally, employers frequently program the ATS to do so.

An applicant tracking system may reject you if your resume lacks dates of employment next to each job title and a clear list of the positions you’ve held.

Therefore, once a hiring manager has seen your profile, the chronological structure is the best resume format to get past the applicant tracking system and secure interviews.

7. Don’t Put Any Crucial Info in the Header or Footer

For stylistic purposes, feel free to add a tiny phrase to your resume’s header or footer, but don’t expect an applicant tracking system to “read” it. Therefore, nothing in your resume’s header or footer will assist you to get past the ATS.

When composing your resume in Word, I advise against utilizing either a header or a footer. Use only the document’s primary portion.

Additionally, pay close attention to how your name and contact information are formatted. Instead of being in a separately structured header section, it ought to be a part of the “main” content.

8. Use Common Titles for Your Resume Sections

When creating the headings for each area of your resume, avoid using expensive fonts.

Use terms like “Work Experience,” “Skills,” “Professional Summary,” and “Education” to keep it straightforward.

The best approach to avoid confusing the application tracking system and having it overlook one of the crucial areas that would have gotten you the interview is to follow these instructions.

Here is a comprehensive post on resume sections and titles if you need assistance naming each area of your resume.

The majority of application tracking systems are aware to seek several titles. For instance, “Employment History,” “Work History,” or “Experience” would be recognized as section titles by a conventional ATS. However, you don’t want to veer too far from the titles that the majority of candidates use.


Remember that a real person will ultimately decide whether or not to conduct an interview with you. Consequently, while you should go by the advice given above to get around the applicant tracking system, you must never make a change that would seem strange to a regular person. Because the intended audience is those who will really read and see it (and like it enough to invite you to interview).

Using proper syntax, ensuring that each sentence, bullet point, and another piece of information seems pertinent and makes sense, etc., are examples of what this entails.

By doing this, you’ll wow the hiring manager or recruiter as well as get your CV past the applicant tracking system!

After Beating the Applicant Tracking System…

The aforementioned advice ought to be more than enough to help you pass even the most difficult online application processes for jobs, convince the resume robots that you’re a good fit, and earn you an interview.

However, you must take the necessary time to prepare for the interview because it is important.

Before the interview, go over the job description once again. Examine your own resume as well. You will be better able to respond to questions regarding your background from a hiring manager or recruiter if the information is still fresh in your mind.

Here is some additional interview guidance.

You will be better able to respond to a range of interview questions if you take a moment to consider your advantages and disadvantages, why you’d be successful in the position, and what interests you about the position.

I advise against attempting to commit to memory all of the possible questions they may have. However, as the interview goes on, you should consider the most important details you want to include for each subject and try to fit them in. Your responses will come off as spontaneous as a result.

Additionally, have ready a stunning elevator pitch to grab their attention right away.

You now know how to navigate online job applications after reading the steps above, and you’ll be equipped to convert your interviews into employment offers as well.

You now know how to increase your chances of beating the ATS, which will give you the highest chance of success when looking for jobs online, even though nobody gets a response from 100% of their online applications or transforms every interview into an offer.

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