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Unlocking the Power of Keywords: How to Optimize Your Resume for Applicant Tracking Systems

The job market is getting extremely saturated with each passing day and for each position companies receive so many resumes that they simply cannot read all of them. Resumes are essential for any job, whether it is an internship or a senior-level post. Companies don’t have the time to go through every resume and find the optimal candidate. Each resume takes at least ten seconds to skim through, and if a company receives hundreds of resumes, they can’t skim through every resume. So, to save time, a new software named Applicant Tracking System has been introduced.

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

Applicant Tracking System, also known as ATS is a software that scans resumes and informs the recruiter whether the candidate is suitable for the job or not. This software is widely used by employers, and approximately 99% of Fortune 500 Companies rely on this software to streamline their recruitment process.

How Does Applicant Tracking System Work?

ATS software acts as a great helper for HR departments and hiring managers. It basically works as a quick resume scanner, it doesn’t read every single word and phrase, instead, it mainly works on keyword detection. 

The ATS software divides the resume into categories, and then it scans for specific and appropriate keywords which helps the recruiter determine whether the candidate is suitable for the job or not. ATS’s task is to eliminate the resumes that are not eligible for the job, and the remaining resumes are then checked by the recruiter. ATS acts as a middle technology to assist the recruiter in choosing qualified candidates, thus saving time for the recruiter. The least qualified candidates are removed from the list, and only those candidates are selected that could be the best fit for the position.

If your resume is not up to ATS style, then you should try the following steps to create a resume that is attractive and as well as following ATS format.

Tips For Creating an ATS-Friendly Resume

An ATS-friendly resume is not very different from other resumes, but there are a few details that you need to consider while writing in ATS format.

Tip #1 – No Big Contact Sections

Generally, people get very detailed when filling up contact information, even though it is not something a recruiter would be searching for in your resume. Contact information is only provided on the resume so that the recruiter could reach out to you easily, you don’t have to be detailed.

A big contact section also takes up a lot of space on your resume, which leaves no room for other important details to be included. So, make sure to be concise with your contact details, and try to focus on other sections of the resume, such as skills, qualifications, achievements, and experience. 

Tip #2 – Use Keywords

As stated earlier, the ATS software scans and searches for the keywords that the employer is looking for in a resume. In order to pass the ATS test, you should add the relevant resume keywords and mention the specific skills that the employer has mentioned in the job description. Keyword optimization is considered to be the most crucial part of ATS formatting. If you have certain qualities, skills, or abilities that are relevant and unique, then you should mention these skills in your resume. Adding valuable skills can increase your chances of getting a call for an interview.

Tip #3 – Titles

Frame your experience with a brief qualification or a targeted keyword. Try to be precise while writing your resume, use titles that are immediately recognized. If you were part of the organizing committee for a Marketing event, then you should mention that experience under the title of Marketing Experience, and the same for other work experiences as well.

Tip #4 – Add Relevant Skills

It might come as shocking, but the skills section is considered to be one of the important sections of a resume. Many candidates focus more on other sections and ignore the skills section, even though it could be a game-changer for their resume.

A candidate has the opportunity to be creative with the skills section. You can mention both your hard and soft skills, and you can also add any unique quality that you have. A pro tip is to go through the job description thoroughly and identify any major or minor skills that were mentioned in the description. After you have identified the desired skills of the employer, try incorporating those skills in your resume. This will make the ATS software identify those skills, which will increase the chances of your resume going for a human review.

Tip #5 – Keep it to One Page

Try to keep your application minimal and relevant. You don’t need to be very detailed and elaborate on the unneeded information. It is highly advisable to use bullet points instead of paragraphs because bullet points will keep your information easily identifiable and is also appealing to the eyes.

While using a bullet list, don’t try to use intricate characters, or else your your resume will not be ATS-Compliant. Try sticking to solid circles or simple squares for bullet points, the more you overdo it, the less appealing it becomes.

Tip #6 – Avoid Using Infographics

For the human eye, it could be appealing, but for a software, it is a complete waste of time. As ATS software is a keyword-finder technology, using images and infographics won’t help you in securing the position.


Every job has its own requirement and the above tips are for a generalized job search, but for different jobs, a different format is needed. If your position is related to creatives or craftwork, then being creative could be your winning edge, and your creative side could be appealing to the employer.

Our team understands that each of our clients are different with dynamic goals requiring a professional resume, CV or optimized LinkedIn profile to get noticed and land interviews.


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