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How to make an resume ATS friendly?

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I recently submitted my resume to Indeed.com, unfortunately my information did not transfer correctly. I believe the format of my resume is at fault here. What are some great tips to remind when making a resume? What are some great resources or websites that help create a resume that is ATS- friendly.
#resume #job-application #job-search #resume-writing

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12 answers

Herman’s Answer

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There are two aspects to ATS-friendly:

1) Ensuring that the format can be parsed by the ATS

2) Ensuring that the resume content is optimized for the ATS

For #1, there are a few general tips I can share:

a) Keep the formatting simple and clean. Elements that the ATS tends to NOT like include: images, logos, headers / footers, columns, tables, custom fonts, etc. The ATS usually only reads information in the body of the document, so don't put important information in headers or footers!

b) Stick to traditional section headings. The common ones that the ATS will expect are things like: Education, Work Experience, Volunteering, etc.

Here's a link for ATS-friendly templates that you can try: https://www.jobscan.co/blog/20-ats-friendly-resume-templates/

Overall though, ATS are usually not good at parsing documents. Always double check to ensure that the information is inputted correctly. If you change it so that it's correct in the employer's system, you should be fine.

Now, on point #2, don't forget about content! The ATS's aim is to scan your content and try to see if you're a match for the position. It does this by analyzing *key words*. How do you optimize your resume?

The first step is to read and understand the job posting. What are they looking for? They'll usually highlight specific experiences and skills they want to see.

Then, mine through your history and experiences. What have you done that could demonstrate those skills? You've probably done a lot more than you'd think! When explaining those experiences on your resume, try to fit the wording that is used in the job posting so that it slightly mirrors what the ATS is looking for. This is all simply about communicating your own experiences and skills in a way that the ATS will like. For example, maybe you have an experience that shows you're a "self-starter". That's great! But maybe the job posting lists "initiative". To be safe, I'd use the "takes initiative" terminology over "self-starter" since they mean the same thing, but the former aligns with the job posting.

As a general reminder, try to make your bullets about your impact and accomplishments as much as possible, as opposed to listing your responsibilities! When your resume eventually gets to a *human*, they will love to see that. Quantifying impact is always a huge positive!
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Kyle’s Answer

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I'd also recommend building out a complete LinkedIn profile. Most of the time certain job sites or applications will allow to transfer information over from your LinkedIn profile with one click. You can build out a LinkedIn similar to your resume with the position you held and a few bullet points summarizing your duties.
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Meghan’s Answer

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There are a few things to consider when creating an ATS friendly resume.

1. Use a simple template. Graphics and other design elements make it hard for the ATS to parse into the correct area. You can 'wow' the hiring manager with your communication skills, passion, etc. (in person or over the phone), rather than trying to create a flashy resume with design elements.

2. Ensure your experience contains keywords.
- If you've been targeting a specific industry or job, you may already be aware of keywords. If not, first begin by reading through the specific job description you're interested in. Once you have an idea of what the job will entail and what the hiring manager is looking for, you can begin to create your resume.
- Keywords for one job description might be different than another, so make sure your resume is tailored toward the specific job. You can do so by using keywords and phrases pulled directly from the job description.
- Keywords can also be related to technical skills
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Casey’s Answer

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Check out CANVA.com! The have resume templates, that are super easy to use, and you can save them as a PDF - to ensure you info transfers!
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Karina’s Answer

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Sprinkling your resume with verbs like, 'Resolved, Utilized, Enhanced, Estimated, Analyzed, Compiled, Improved, Demonstrated, Managed' might help.
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Chad’s Answer

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I would strongly recommend that you submit in a PDF format - not Word - and do so as an attachment to your applicant profile v. copying and pasting into a box that will likely parse different parts and disrupt format.
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Loujane’s Answer

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Keep your resume format simple, free from images or tables as these are harder to parse.
Include relevant keywords that are relevant to your skills and experience that best describe you and yet easily searchable. For example, instead of putting that you are highly motivated and a fast learner, describe what you have done , share the skill you have gained and the value that it adds to your role.
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Sarah’s Answer

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There're so many good answers and I'd like to add some more ingredients:

1. Write a 1 or 2 pages resume of WORD format, and remember to highlight your strength and experience ( or internship), use relative key words as many as possible;
2. Do not insert logo, pictures or hyperlinks;
3. Do not write your contact info in the headers or footers!
4. Save it as PDF format, do not use the encrypt functionality otherwise it will not be ATS-friendly at all...

That's it!
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Tariq’s Answer

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ATS systems in order to remain competitive over the years have become very sophisticated, so I'm going to challenge the conventional wisdom by saying it's no longer true that you need to keep your resume overly simplistic for the sake of an ATS system being able to parse your resume.

A resume is not a biography, it's an advertisement, with the goal of promoting yourself and your brand, and creating enough interest to generate a follow up from a potential employer.

Thus I think it's important in order to stand out amongst the crowd that your resume not look generic. Use of color and font choice and size will have no impact on an ATS, but will catch the eye of someone reading your resume.

Use of graphics is ok, as long as it doesn't contain key information in the graphic itself (e.g. like a graphical bullet).

In terms of layout, regardless of an ATS, the structure needs to flow and be easily digestible by a human. If you're able to achieve that, it's probably simple enough that an ATS can consume it accurately.

And likewise, an important aspect of resume writing is experimentation. When you're in job search mode, prepare to be in a constant state of tweaking your resume in order to improve your hit rate when it comes to follow ups.

Good luck!
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Marina’s Answer

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I've used https://www.jobscan.co/ to optimize my resume and LinkedIn profile. The site compares your resume or profile to a job description you upload, rates its percentage match and gives specific tips on how to improve your match score. You should be able to sign up for a free profile with an email address. Otherwise, your counseling office or local state's employment agency might have a premium subscription to share with you.
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Samuel’s Answer

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Greetings and salutations. My name is Samuel Achiles. I am a recent graduate from Cal State Dominguez Hills. I know what you have been through, because I also attempted to submit my resume on Indeed.com, but ended up short-handed. However, just yesterday, Indeed.com just hosted a webinar on job searching during this pandemic. You can find the webinar on www.youtube.com/indeed, if you haven't seen it yet.

According to the webinar, some of the advice that the peers gave in regards to resume writing is to begin your main body by listing and explaining all the relevant skills you hope to bring to the job and task you intend to apply for. In addition, you should check in with your employer(s) to ascertain what specific tasks pertaining to your position will they require. It is because, be advised, a resume should be a written showcase of what skills are you willing to bring to work, given that they match the criteria and expectations. Then, you could follow up by elaborating on your personality and other skills and hobbies you have. However, you should avoid making your resume too long, and just simply keep the content specific and relevant.

In regards to making your resume ATS-friendly, you could follow these 4 simple steps:
1. Choose an easy-to-read resume template, because fancy fonts might confuse the ATS.
2. Read and reread your job descriptions, and look for keywords that you can use.
3. Update your resume, using the keywords you found.
4. You could take the liberty to customize your resume for each employer.

After all, the peers at yesterday's webinar advised that it is highly recommended that we make multiple variations of our resume, so that we have multiple options at hand with potential employers.

Hope that this advice was helpful and may serve your endeavors well.
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Evan’s Answer

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Great question and good answers so far.

Keep the format straight-forward, Education / Professional Experience / additional skills, etc. (keep it small)
- no logos, images

I recommend saving in PDF format and having a Word doc for editing. PDF is usually easier to upload into multiple systems. Go to Print > lower left dropdown, Save as PDF and name your file (save to a file or desktop).

Read the job description for roles you're interested and tailor your resume. Highlight key experiences or transferrable skills that are relevant to the job you seek. i.e Keywords, teamwork, technical skills, projects, certifications, types of reports, etc.
- highlight and list your key accomplishments, be able to quantify work / use numbers (if applicable) vs just writing your resume to read like a job description
- remember, the hiring team is going to spend a very limited amount of time reviewing your resume and wants to quickly understand your experiences and impact you've made

good luck and keep the questions coming!

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