Tips for Constructing an ATS-friendly Resume

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Technology has made our lives easier and simpler. But it still isn’t at a stage to perceive complexities which a human eye effortlessly sees. One aspect where this ease minus complexity is evident is the Applicants Tracking System, or abbreviated as ATS. Why should you construct an ATS-friendly resume?

The Applicant Tracking System, as the name suggests, is a computerised automated system that tracks or goes through the details of the numerous resumes a company receives. The system then picks the ones which are deemed to be suitable for further scrutiny by the hiring manager/employers. The ATS has its own technical criteria, and forwards only those resumes which are found to be a match.

Thus between your application and the hiring manager, is the ATS.

  • On the bright side, the ATS can be helpful in tracking really good resumes. But a less pleasant thing is that some really good candidates with not so ATS-friendly resumes unfairly may miss the boat.
  • It saves times and labour, but leaves no space for human judgment.

Fortunately, crafting an ATS-friendly resume isn’t that different from crafting a concise, crisp ‘normal’ human targeted resume.



Keywords are important, even in a ‘normal’ resume.

But they gain a special importance when it comes to ATS.

The ATS scans specifically for keywords and certain phrases. Hence it is really important to insert some of these key words and phrases found on the job description. It makes your resume extremely ‘readable’ for the ATS.

But don’t go overboard and stuff your resume with all the keywords possible. The ATS will be able to detect the overuse!



We really mean it. Spell-check like you are writing something which will never be erased, like it’s going to be carved on stone for generations to see.

Since the ATS looks for keywords and phrases, it is necessary to make sure those keywords and phrases have the perfect spelling.

ATS can look through minor typos like computr-computer.

But it might not be able to look through major typos. A typo like weak-week would be perceptible to a human being- one would know it’s just a spelling mistake when you say “I spent four weaks in…”

The ATS may not be able to place the typo in such a context.


Keep it Really, Really Simple:

ATS can’t detect creativity. Hence it is necessary to keep everything as simple and straightforward as possible.

Pre-ATS, it was necessary to use neat and legible formatting. This becomes all the more important with the ATS.

It is a good idea to use standard fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, and avoid the  temptation to display some creativity.

ATS demands everything standardised. Hence the layout should also be regular and nothing fancy. The sections should also be named simply, clearly telling what they would contain: skills, education, qualifications, professional experience, etc,.

Don’t use graphics, most ATS softwares are not that image-friendly.


Converting the Not So ATS-friendly to ATS-friendly:

A lot of us like to begin with a “Career Objective” section. Unfortunately, that is not very ATS friendly introduction.

As an alternative, it is a good idea to begin with a summary that tells about your qualifications, major achievements, skills, etc. No longer than around five-six sentences or bullet-points.

This is a fantastic way to insert keywords for the ATS. Plus, when the resume goes further to the human assessor, it would give a quick glance of your qualifications right at the beginning.


A few other key points…

  • Use the acronym as well as the full form of words, so the ATS would catch the words, no matter whether it is programmed to scan the latter or the former.
  • Use a text document, like Word. Generally, image files are not ATS-friendly. Try to not even use PDF because certain systems will see PDF files as a whole image.
  • Do not put important information on headers and footers.

If you think the ATS-friendly resume would make you come across as too mechanised or robotic in the eyes of human assessor, it is a good idea to find out if the company you are applying at is likely to use ATS or not, and if yes, you can undertake a research about the various ATS softwares used, to tailor things to perfection.

Human or no human, everyone likes a neat, crisp, informative resume, right?