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ATS Friendly Resume: The Definitive Guide

Last Updated on November 2, 2022 by admin

Having an ATS Friendly Resume is of utmost advantage in today’s job market. Did you know that the ATS test usually rejects nearly 75 percent of resumes? On the other hand, an estimated 90 percent of recruiters/ employers currently use an ATS.

This situation puts you in a position whereby you must ensure that your resume is ATS ready.

The “Applicant Tracking System” or simply ATS system is continually becoming popular among employers and job applicants. In this regard, it is important to understand its impact on the job you are applying for.


In this definitive guide, we will explore;

What is ATS (Applicant Tracking System)

The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a human resource application that processes resume mainly to understand an applicant’s history and relevance to the specific job description. The software evaluates history, relevant skills, job titles, and education. It can also evaluate contact information such as name, email address, and mobile phone number based on how it has been configured.

How ATS Systems Work

ATS is designed and configured to scan a resume template based on specific parameters that match a particular job description.

The main advantage of an ATS system is that it makes searching for resumes easier through automation. With the increasing number of resumes submitted for different job positions posted online, ATS makes it easier for the hiring team to qualify and disqualify resumes based on the configured parameters.  

ATS systems can have slight differences depending on the developer or company’s requirements. However, most of them follow a common process that is characterized by;

Asking applicants knockout questions (can be in the form of checkboxes or short answer questions). These types of questions are meant to auto-reject unqualified candidates.

In this regard, you will be taken to the next stage if you answer the questions correctly. It is important to note that all ATS systems store and parse applicants’ information to make it easier to retrieve specific applicant information using relatable keywords.

Related article: Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) Optimization: Optimize Your Resume Now (+ 4 Secrets for a Strong Match Score).


5 Rules For Developing an ATS Friendly Resume

Here are the 5 rules to consider when developing an ATS Friendly Resume

  1. Adopt a Standard Resume Format
  2. Optimize Keywords
  3. Expand Abbreviated Words
  4. Ensure that You have Included all the Relevant Information
  5. Upload your Resume as a Word Document

Rule 1: Adopt a Standard Resume Format

In a world where every job applicant wants to make their resume unique by using all means possible, including images, graphs, and sophisticated user interface designs, it is better to keep it simple.

By keeping it simple, we mean that you should always ensure that your resume is free of any images, graphical representations, and charts (unless you have been asked). Having a clear resume makes it easier for the ATS to scan and process your resume.

Rule 2: Optimize Keywords

Keyword optimization is crucial for any resume, especially when passing the ATS test. In this scenario, keywords represent words that the ATS system looks for in relation to the job description or industry.

Your resume should have main professional and field-related keywords that match the job description.

Here is the bottom line: “The more matching keywords your resume has, the greater the overall score.”

Rule 3: Expand Abbreviated Words

The ATS software might fail to understand some industry-specific abbreviations in most cases. In this regard, it is important to spell out the abbreviations at least once.

Spelling out abbreviations also helps in avoiding possible confusion.

Rule 4: Ensure that You have Included all the Relevant Information

Conventionally, the ATS system scans your resume to establish whether it has information that relates to the specific job requirements.

NOTE: Avoid submitting two documents containing experience from two different positions. The ATS System might reject such a resume.

Rule 5: Upload Resume as a Word Document

Lastly, upload your resume as a word document (.doc or .docx file). This rule makes it easier for most ATS systems to scan and process your resume.

In some cases, job applicants can be asked to upload their resume in other versions but stick to the word document version unless specified.

How to Confirm Whether Your Resume is ATS Friendly


You can confirm whether your resume is ATS friendly by;

  • Saving your resume as text and reviewing the result.

If the plain text version might be missing some details from the original resume, the resume has an issue. In this regard, it cannot be regarded as ATS Friendly.

  • Let our experts scan the resume for you.

At GTJResume, we can scan and review your resume for FREE using our systems as well as a panel of professional career experts and help you create an ATS friendly resume.

REMEMBER: With the increasing number of job applications for specific positions, employers or recruiters will adopt simplified and reliable methods for identifying an ideal candidate for specific positions by using the ATS systems alongside other organizational criteria. In this regard, always ensure that you have an ATS friendly resume.

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Catherine Ronald

Talented and Hard-working editor with special skills in career building and growth publishing. All I can Say is be ready to get that job.

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