Click on this link to download the FREE PDF Checklist “Top 40 Ways to Help Your Résumé Beat the Computer ATS and Attract Interviews”


Let’s fact it – the ATS can be a real beatch.

About 75% of résumés don’t make it past this gate keeper of online purgatory.

ATS stands for “Applicant Tracking System”.  It’s the first and biggest hurdle your résumé has to get over if you ever want it to be read by the human being at the other end.

If you’ve been uploading your résumé online only to be getting little to no response, your document probably isn’t ATS-friendly.

I’ll give you some helpful tips you can use to improve the chances of your résumé making it through the computer filter.  Every little tweak can make a big difference, so make the recommended changes before you apply to any jobs online.

Click on this link to download the FREE PDF Checklist “Top 40 Ways to Help Your Résumé Beat the Computer ATS and Attract Interviews”

Getting your résumé past the computer systems relies on doing these three things:


  • Customizing your document to the job posting by using specific keywords/phrases and other strategies


  • Creating a document using a simple format and design


  • Uploading the appropriate type of document


What is the ATS – Theory vs Reality


Applicant tracking systems are used by companies to help them scan, score, rank, and store résumés that are uploaded by applicants.

In theory, the ATS streamlines the recruiting and hiring process so that the employer can find the best-match candidates more efficiently.

In reality, the systems don’t necessarily detect the best-match candidates largely because the résumés haven’t been properly formatted and designed for the ATS.


How to Beat the ATS


The whole ATS situation is complicated because there are 200+ different ones that don’t follow a universal system.

While they are all similar in some aspects, some can scan only certain files that have no complex design elements while others can handle different file types and even complex formatting.

Unless you know which system each company uses, you need to err on the side of caution by creating a simple, ATS-friendly document so that it comes up in a search string.


Use Keywords


Keywords are words (and even phrases comprised of keywords) that relate to particular job requirements. They are hard and soft skills, abilities, credentials, and qualities that recruiters and hiring managers look for in a candidate that are found in the job description and in the company website.

Both the ATS and the human reader look for specific keywords when they scan your résumé.  The more you miss keywords or use the wrong ones, the more likely your résumé will end up at the bottom of the pile, never to be seen.

The general rule with keywords is to identify those that accurately represent your skills, experience, and qualities and use them repeatedly throughout your résumé and cover letter.


Don’t Over-do It!


But like everything in life, too much of a good thing can be bad. Be careful to not “keyword stuff” your documents or use the keywords out of context, otherwise your résumé will be rejected.

Creating a keyword-rich document that passes the ATS and human reader’s numerous selection criteria takes a specific strategy that goes beyond just tossing in a few keywords here and there.


Keep It Simple!


The most effective résumé design for the ATS and the human reader is a simple one that the computer and human eye can scan easily from left to right, without any disruption from design elements.

Resist the temptation to use a résumé template that you find online as many of them are not ATS or even human reader friendly. You can create your own simple design in a Word document that doesn’t require any special know-how.


Don’t Go All “Uber-Design”


If you’re applying to jobs online, NEVER upload a résumé that was created using a lot of design elements and infographics because there’s a high probability it will get rejected by the ATS.

Even if you’re handing or emailing your résumé directly to a human, it’s best to keep design elements to a minimum. Most people find design-heavy documents too difficult to scan quickly and complain that it’s often an obvious (an annoying) ploy to make up for the lack of meaningful content.

Click on this link to download the FREE PDF Checklist “Top 40 Ways to Help Your Résumé Beat the Computer ATS and Attract Interviews”

Optimize Readability


The key thing is readability for both the ATS and human.


  • Avoid a “copy-dense” document by maintaining ample white space and margins throughout


  • Use easy to read font types and sizes


  • Use bullet points as much as possible


  • Don’t overdo bolding, underlinesitalics, fancy font styles, and colour


  • Use a one-column format


  • Don’t use fancy design elements such as text boxes, graphs, charts, photos, or any kind of embedded images


  • Be careful adding extra spaces between letters and words and using tables


Word is the Way To Go


The safest type of file to upload is a Word .doc (not .docx).  Don’t use a PDF or Word .docx, unless specified otherwise.

Plain text is the “safest” format to use because it’s totally stripped down of any formatting and will get through virtually any ATS.  Problem is, plain text lacks visual impact, so for that reason, I don’t recommend it for the résumé which must grab immediate attention of the human reader.


Customizing Your Résumé


Customizing your résumé for each position will significantly increase its chances of getting through the ATS.  While résumé customization does include using keywords, there is more strategy involved which will be covered in a future blog.


This is What Recruiter and Hiring Managers Expect


According to a Careerbuilder survey:


  • 63% of recruiters want you to tailor your résumé to the position


  • 54% of recruiters will reject your résumé if you don’t customize it


Even if your simple, keyword-rich résumé managed to make it past the ATS, it has over a 50% chance of not making it past the human just because it wasn’t tailored to the position. Then there are other elimination criteria that the human uses to drill down even further.

So, sending out the same résumé to different jobs is a really bad idea, whether you’ve used keywords or not.

Click on this link to download the FREE PDF Checklist “Top 40 Ways to Help Your Résumé Beat the Computer ATS and Attract Interviews”


Résumé and interview help is only a click away!

Grab the 32-point Résumé Inspection

If you’re not sure how well your résumé will pass through the computer filters and attract the interest of hiring managers, you can grab the 32-point Résumé Inspection. 

This is a a comprehensive assessment of your entire résumé, personalized feedback (from me!), links to more help, and downloadable resources to help you make improvements if that’s what you want to do.  Click on this link to learn learn more.

Grab the FREE Discovery Call

If you’d like to discuss how I can help you stand out and get noticed (in a good way) so you can land interviews and get hired sooner than later, click here to set up a free discovery call

Grab the FREE Mini Résumé Writing Course

This is one module that focuses on one simple strategy that can get big results by helping you go from zero to potentially multiple interviews. Click on this link to sign up and get instant access to the course.

Grab more FREE resources

Visit the Free Stuff page and download as many of the free resources as you like.  For more free resources, check out the FREE STUFF page by clicking on this link.

Hi!  I’m Diana.

I leverage over 10 years recruitment and sales/marketing experience to create attention-grabbing résumés, cover letters, and Linkedin profiles that help job seekers stand out, get noticed, and get hired. You can learn more about my story here and about how I can help you here.

Need help? That’s what I’m here for!

Are you in the midst of a job search and not getting the results you want? Or are you’re thinking of making a change and want to make sure you get started off on the right foot? Then I recommend you reach out for some help. You can contact me directly here!

FREE résumé help

Click on this link to take advantage of multiple free offers.

I look forward to helping you with your career success! Sign up below to receive regular updates of free career tips and advice, resources, and special offers.