ats resume

In today’s world, certain software programs have become a hugely consequential factor influencing your career path. Getting past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is the first barrier to entry, which makes creating an ATS resume all the more crucial for your career prospects.

It can be quite frustrating to submit your resume only to have it rejected by a machine. However, there are definitely ways to optimize your resume so it gets past an ATS scanner and ultimately reaches an actual human being.

That’s why we’ve created this article to show you how to make your resume ATS-friendly and increase your chances of getting judged by a person as a wholesome professional instead of just as a bunch of keywords on a digital page.

Key Takeaways

  • An ATS is a software that collects, screens, and tracks job applications and resumes. It’s an automated process which helps save time and money for hiring managers.
  • To create an ATS resume, you need to use a simple, clean, and easy-to-read format. Some compatible ATS resume formats are the chronological, combination, and functional.
  • Avoid using images, graphics, or tables as this can confuse the ATS scanner. It will skip through all of this data which will make your resume seem empty.
  • Rename your resume sections appropriately and adjust your job titles to match the keywords in the job description, but be honest about your previous experience.

What is an ATS?

An ATS (Applicant Tracking System) is a software application that helps organizations manage their recruitment processes more efficiently. It primarily automates the process of collecting, screening, and tracking job applications.

Employers, recruiters, and HR professionals use these systems to streamline their hiring process, improve recruitment efficiency, and reduce any time or cost associated with managing job applications manually. Recent data suggests that over 98% of Fortune 500 companies use some form of ATS.

However, all this improved efficiency comes at a big cost that these big companies are apparently willing to pay.

These systems, being automatic, do not assess the person as a whole and cannot appreciate all the nuances and implications that might make someone a great employee and a great fit for a certain company, despite not seeming so perfect on paper to these screening algorithms.

This is where an ATS resume comes in, as making an effort to optimize your CV can make or break your chances of landing a job.

How to Create an ATS Resume

Creating an ATS-friendly resume involves tailoring it to the job ad keywords and ensuring that it meets ATS standards for formatting and design.

It’s important to use a simple and clean layout with clear headings and bullet points. ATS also skips through images, graphics, or tables, so it’s best to avoid using them on your resume all together.

Carefully review the job description to identify the specific skills, qualifications, and experience that the employer is seeking, and incorporate those keywords and phrases into your resume.

Keep in mind that you still need to use them in a natural and coherent way, rather than just stuffing them in wherever possible.

Let’s explore the steps you need to take to create an ATS resume:

#1. Choose The Right Resume Format

When you create an ATS resume, it’s important to choose a format that is easy for the ATS to read and understand, which is why it’s better to stick to traditional formats.

ATS systems frequently favor a chronological format, where you list your work experience in reverse chronological order.

Other formats, such as functional or hybrid, are also options, provided they are easy for the ATS to read. Avoid using overly creative formats, as these can confuse the ATS and cause it to categorize and organize your information incorrectly.

This is why you should also keep your resume simple and clean, as this lets the system quickly and easily identify your most recent and relevant work experience. Make sure to use bullet points to break up the information and make it even easier to scan through.

Lastly, save your resume in a compatible format. You should set some time aside to research the ATS software the company you’re applying to uses to check which formats are accepted and preferred.

#2. Name Resume Sections Appropriately

Using appropriate section headings in your resume is essential to ensuring the ATS can easily and quickly identify and categorize your information properly.

Use standard and common section headings, such as:

  • Contact information
  • Summary or Objective
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Skills


Avoid using creative or unusual titles that may confuse the ATS. No matter how tempting it is to use unique titles so that you can stand out, if the ATS fails to recognize these sections, you can hurt your chances of being selected for an interview.

Additionally, you can also customize your section titles to match the job description. For example, if the ad mentions “Project Management Experience” as a requirement, you can title your experience section exactly the same instead of just “Work Experience”.

#3. Adjust Your Job Title

When listing your job title for an ATS resume, it’s important to use one that accurately represents your previous role. If your previous job title doesn’t match the one used in the job ad, you should try to adjust it to better match the ad’s wording.

This will help your resume appear more relevant to both the ATS and the recruiter or hiring manager.

To adjust your job title for an ATS resume, you will need to make note of any alternative titles that are mentioned and identify key responsibilities from both your previous job and the job you want to apply for.

However, it’s important to remain honest and accurate. Never misrepresent your actual title or responsibilities, as you will inevitably get caught at some point.

#4. Tailor Skills

To tailor your skills for an ATS-friendly resume, it’s important to review the job ad thoroughly and identify specific skills that the employer is seeking.

Here are a few tips to help you tailor your skills for an ATS resume:

  • Identify key skills. These are the main skills that the employer is looking for.
  • Use the same wording. Use the same phrases that are used in the job ad as this is what the ATS system is programmed to recognize.
  • Highlight relevant experience. Provide examples of how you have used your job skills in your previous roles.
  • Be concise. Keep the skills section relevant. Don’t include skills that are not relevant to the job, as it can make it harder for the ATS to categorize your resume.

#5. Identify Relevant Keywords

Keywords are essential for an ATS-friendly resume, as the system is programmed to search for specific resume keywords to determine if you’re a good fit for the job.

Check the job ad and look for specific phrases, and then incorporate those keywords throughout your resume, especially in your summary, work experience, and skills sections.

However, don’t just list keywords; be sure to use them in a natural and coherent way that fits the flow of your resume. You can significantly raise the likelihood that the ATS will choose you by using these keywords in this manner.

More Tips to Consider When Creating an ATS Resume

Here are some additional things to consider when creating an ATS resume:

  • Use appropriate font and font size. Use a standard, easy-to-read resume font such as Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri. Stick to font sizes between 10 and 12 points to make sure the text is readable. Be consistent with the font type and size throughout the entire resume as well.
  • Check for grammar and spelling errors. Errors can cause the ATS to reject your resume or lower your ranking. You can use tools such as Grammarly to catch any errors more easily before submitting your application.
  • Optimize file names. Use a simple and straightforward file name such as “Yourfirstname_lastname_Resume” to make it easy for the hiring manager to find your resume.
  • Keep your resume up to date. Regularly update your resume with new skills, accomplishments, and experiences to make sure it remains relevant and effective.
  • Prioritize your information. Place the most important information such as your name, contact details, and relevant skills at the top of your resume. This makes it easier for the ATS and recruiters to quickly find the information they need.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Aim to keep your resume between one and two pages, and stick to relevant information while leaving out any filler details.

How to Know if Your Resume is ATS-Friendly

a man reading someone's resume

To check if your resume is ATS-friendly, you can use an online scanning tool such as Jobscan.

Here’s how you can use Jobscan to assess the ATS-friendliness of your resume:

  • Go to the Jobscan website and sign up for a free account.
  • Once you log in, copy and paste your resume and the job description you’re targeting. You can also upload your resume as a file or connect your LinkedIn profile to import your information.
  • After you enter the required information, click on the “Scan” button. Jobscan will then analyze your resume against the job description using an algorithm that is similar to those used by common ATS systems.
  • Once the analysis is complete, you will receive a report that shows how well your resume matches the job description. You will also notice a percentage score that indicates the compatibility level between your resume and the job.


A good result on Jobscan, around 80% or higher, shows that your resume is well-matched and highly relevant to the job posting.

ATS Resume Example

Here’s an example of a Customer Service Representative job ad, along with a corresponding resume tailored for ATS:

Job Ad:

Customer Service Rep

Inseans INC.

Los Angeles, California

Inseans Inc. is seeking a Customer Service Rep to join our team.

Main responsibilities:

  • Answering incoming calls and emails promptly and courteously
  • Resolving customer complaints and issues professionally
  • Process orders, returns, and exchanges efficiently
  • Maintain customer records and update databases as required
  • Communicates with customers and team members to ensure customer satisfaction


Qualifications required:

  • High school diploma
  • Minimum of two years of customer service experience in a fast-paced environment
  • Strong communication, problem-solving, and verbal skills
  • Multitasking abilities
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office and experience with CRM software
  • Willingness to work flexible hours, including evenings and weekends



Janina Smith

156 Lochter Street | Los Angeles, California | (637) 231-7639 | [email protected]

Objective: Getting a customer service representative position that utilizes my skills, such as problem-solving and communication, as well as my broad experience in this field and my dedication to providing exceptional service and support to customers.

Summary: Experienced customer service representative with over three years of experience in a fast-paced environment and a proven track record of resolving customer issues, processing orders, and maintaining customer satisfaction. Excellent communication skills and proficiency in Microsoft Office and multiple CRM softwares.

Professional Experience:

Customer Service Representative

Vapeur Co.

(June, 2019 – January, 2023)

  • Successfully handled thousands of customer calls and emails, addressing customer inquiries and complaints with courtesy.
  • Processed orders, returns, and exchanges in an efficient manner.
  • Collaborated with other departments to make sure that each order is fulfilled accurately and on time.



High School Diploma

River East High

(September, 2015 – June, 2019)


  • Strong communication skills, both written and verbal.
  • Excellent problem-solving skills and attention to detail.
  • Ability to multitask and work in a team environment.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office.
  • Experience with CRM software.


Why this example works:

The resume has been tailored to the job description provided in the job ad for a customer service representative. The objective statement provides the candidate’s goals, which are aligned with the position they’re applying for.

The professional experience section shows that the candidate has had successful experience working in the industry while still including key responsibilities that correlate with the job ad.

The education section lists the candidate’s educational background, and the skills section highlights the candidate’s proficiency in Microsoft Office and CRM software, both of which are mentioned in the job ad.

Overall, this resume demonstrates a strong fit for the position and effectively communicates the candidate’s qualifications and experience to an ATS. It does so by using keywords and phrases from the job ad and aligning them with the job requirements.

Final Thoughts

This article should’ve helped you learn that there’s more to crafting a winning resume than just listing your qualifications. With so many companies using ATS systems to sort through piles of candidates, it’s important to make sure your resume is optimized for these machines.

We hope this guide has helped you understand what’s behind the meaning of the ATS resume, as well as how to choose the right format, name sections appropriately, tailor your skills, and identify relevant keywords. If yes, then you’re well on your way to standing out in the digital crowd!

Put these tips into action, and you’ll dramatically increase your chances of landing that dream job! Good luck!