Best Resume Writer Tips: Complying with the Applicant Tracking Systems

National Experts in Resume Writing & Career Coaching

Best Resume Writer Tips: Complying with the Applicant Tracking Systems

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

As an expert resume writer I need to spend the time to make sure that my professional resumes can get by the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which is the software that reads your resume and ranks it according to keywords. Today about 65% of medium to large companies are now using Applicant Tracking Systems and this has created a nightmare for job seekers. In fact, a recent study indicated that about 75% of qualified job seekers are being eliminated because they do not know the rules.

So here are six important tips to ensure that your resume will be properly interpreted by the ATS.

1. Do not use Microsoft tables or text boxes.

Most Applicant Tracking Systems cannot read information enclosed in tables or text boxes. So if your name or other important sections of your resume are in tables, remove the tables, and convert the sections to text.

2. Start your resume with PROFILE or PROFILE SUMMARY.

These important terms tell the ATS what section it is in. So if you just have a job title like SALES EXECUTIVE, followed by your value proposition, this will not be seen without the Profile header. Instead have PROFILE: SALES EXECUTIVE and the Applicant Tracking System will correctly read the section after the word “profile.”

3. Clearly indicate other key sections.

Below your PROFILE or PROFILE SUMMARY, the other key sections are EXPERIENCE, EDUCATION, CERTIFICATIONS, and AFFILIATIONS. So don’t preface your career chronology with something like “Value Offered.” It might not be seen.

4. Ensure your positions are understood.

The Applicant Tracking System is looking for Company name, Title, and Dates of employment and these must be entered in such a way that these can be identified.

The company name should be followed by Inc., Corp., LLC or something similar so the system can identify a company. You must also have these three components next to each other.

For example:

This may not be interpreted correctly –

ABC Software Inc.
Leading provider of CRM solutions
Senior Project Manager (6/2006-Present)

Instead show it as this –

ABC Software Inc. – Senior Project Manager (6/2006-Present)
Leading provider of CRM solutions

Or as this –

ABC Software Inc.
Senior Project Manager
Leading provider of CRM solutions

Note too that if you have held multiple positions at the same company, you need to repeat the company name again.

5. Use Headers for subsequent pages.

If your resume is longer than one page long (which is fine),  have HBS Software Inc. (or whatever is extending to the next page) continued and/or your name and contact information at the top of the subsequent pages, this can confuse the Applicant Tracking System.  It is better to use the MS Word Page Header function keep that information hidden from the ATS.

6. Submit your resume in the right format.

Send the resume in MS Word .doc format, not .docx and not PDF files as not every system can read these.

Follow these rules and your resume will be correctly interpreted by most Applicant Tracking Systems. And don’t forget to have a “pretty” version of your resume to hand out  when you are networking and in job interviews.