The Job Search, The Resume

Applicant Tracking Systems, ATS

When applying for a position – when you hit send where are your resume and cover letter really going? Most likely, its being filter through an Applicant Tracking System, ATS, before it ever reaches the desk of a hiring manager and/or recruiter.

It use to be that only Fortune 500 companies used ATS to pre-filter resumes and automate the end-to-end hiring process. However, as technology has evolved, such software is now available to corporations and recruiting firms of all sizes. It is now commonplace for corporations to turn to and rely on ATS software to handle everything from posting a job to selecting the ideal candidate.

What does this mean for today’s job seeker? It means that you when you submit your resume, in most cases it is not going directly to a hiring manager and/or recruiter. Instead, it first moves through an ATS, a software that is designed to manage the hiring process.

An ATS scans submitted resumes and cover letters for keywords/key phrases (skills, job positions) and filters (location and education). Similiar to a search engine, the resumes and cover letters that match the keywords and filters are classified as “qualified” candidates and are then sent to the recruiter or hiring manager.

A high-level understanding of how ATS work, further emphasizes the power and importance customizing your resume to the position that you are applying for.

(Doyle, 2018) ATS reject an estimated 70 percent or more of the resumes submitted, either because the documents don’t reflect the desired qualifications or are formatted in a way that the system can’t digest the information.

Take a look at your resume, and consider the following:

  • Does your resume support/ compliment the position you are applying for?
  • Is the font that you selected clear? Have used clear fonts such as Arial, Courier, or Times New Roman. Remember, ATS is a software and may not be able to “read” fonts that are “fancy”
  • Did you use any logos?
    • If your resume has logos, symbols, shading and/or pictures, consider removing them. Again, there is a high probability that your resume will first be scanned by an ATS which could have trouble reading the extra touches, and ultimately reject your resumé and cover letter.
  • Did you spell check your work? Spelling errors are just that, errors–which will not be understood or literally read by ATS.


Doyle, A. (2018, February 02). How To Get Your Resume Past the Applicant Tracking System. Retrieved March 27, 2018, from

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