Resume Optimization for Applicant Tracking Systems

Resume Optimization for Applicant Tracking Systems

Today, many businesses use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to manage job applications. Employers often use keywords to decide which applications are right for the job. Consequently, it is important for resumes to be optimized with relevant keywords. In this guide, learn the best practices for optimizing your resume with ATS.

Understanding Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are computer programs that employers use to automate the tracking and evaluation of resumes for job openings. Common features of Applicant Tracking Systems include recording candidate information, screening resumes for required skills and keyword phrases, sorting applications according to the employer’s selection criteria, and scoring candidates for their potential fit for a job.

Keyword Research

Before you start optimizing your resume for ATS, it’s important to do research and identify the keywords the ATS is likely to be looking for. Make a list of words and phrases related to the job title or industry. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a data analyst, you may want to include relevant terms such as “data mining”, “statistical analysis” and “pattern recognition”.

Resume Formatting

To ensure that your resume is optimized for ATS, it’s important to use the right formatting. Be consistent and use plain, easy-to-read fonts. Try to use standard formats, such as PDF or Microsoft Word, to maximize the chances that the ATS will be able to read your document. Keep in mind that many ATS can not read images or text embedded within images.

Include Keywords

Once you have identified the most relevant keywords for the job opening, include those terms in your resume. Try to place them naturally in the structure of the document, using them in the title, job experiences and job descriptions. Keep in mind that some employers put a limit on the number of times a keyword is used in a document, so be sure to limit their use. Additionally, avoid using the same keywords over and over and vary them throughout your document.

Relevance and Clarity

Although including keywords is important, it’s also important to make sure that your resume is meaningful and clear. ATS may be hard-programmed to search for keywords, but they are still designed by humans. Read through your resume and ensure that it makes sense to both humans and ATS. Additionally, make sure to thoroughly proofread your document for errors.

Stay Focused and Relevant

Don’t include information that’s not relevant to your career goals. Information such as hobbies or other irrelevant experiences can confuse the ATS and may even make your resume seem cluttered. Instead, focus on emphasizing your best skills, relevant experience, and accomplishments. Additionally, make sure to customize your resume for every job you apply for.


By following the tips and best practices outlined here, you can ensure that your resume is correctly optimized for an Applicant Tracking System. From identifying the right keywords to staying focused and relevant, there are a variety of factors to consider when optimizing your resume for ATS. By taking the time to optimize your resume correctly for ATS, you can maximize your chances of getting an interview.

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