What to put on a resume? There are 5 must-have sections you need to include in a resume and some extra ones. Read on and learn what should be on your resume.
Do you know what resumes and robots have in common? They’re likely to meet during recruitment. No, I’m not talking about a stray Roomba running over your discarded job application. I mean ATS scanners—the screening software that pre-selects job candidates.
If you want your application to end up in front of the recruiter’s eyes, you must know how to outsmart the robots. So, learn how to write an ATS resume and beat the system!
In this article, you’ll see:
- What the Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) is.
- How to make an ATS-friendly resume using simple tricks.
- List of the best ATS resume templates you can use and download.
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Want to check resume templates for various applications? Feel free to check the guides below, too:
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What Is an ATS-Friendly Resume?
An ATS-friendly resume is designed to pass the applicant tracking systems. You can ensure your resume is ATS-compliant by using standard sections, industry keywords, and simple formatting.
Having an ATS-friendly resume is important. If your resume doesn't pass the ATS test, it'll never reach a human recruiter. And that means you’ll be waiting for a job interview invite forever.
How Does the ATS Work?
The applicant tracking system scans your resume for job-related keywords and determines if you are a good match for the position. ATS reads your resume from left to right, and top to bottom, so it prefers resumes with a well-organized structure and an easy-to-read text layer.
How Can You Increase Your ATS Match Rate?
The match rate is a score many ATS give your resume which shows how good of a "match" you are for the position. The higher your match, the faster a human recruiter will look at your application. If your ATS resume match score is too low, you might never even hear from them.
So, how should you optimize your ATS resume to raise the match score? Tailor your resume for each job application. Review the job description and identify essential keywords. Incorporate these keywords naturally into your resume, especially in the skills and experience sections. When listing your work history section provide the job title, company, location, dates of employment, and a detailed description of your professional achievements for each entry. Use bullet points for clarity. Begin each resume bullet point with a strong action verb.
Sounds tough? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Below, you'll find ATS-optimized and ATS-friendly resume templates that will help you pass the test.
Expert Hint: 90% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS software. This is representative of a more general trend among more and more companies automating and streamlining their recruitment processes.
How to Write an ATS-Compatible Resume
Now that you know how ATSs work and what ATS-friendly resumes are, let’s take a look at how you can write a job-winning ATS resume.
1. Use an ATS Resume Template
You should keep several things in mind when choosing an ATS-friendly resume template.
First, see if it’s readable to a machine. How? Copy and paste the content of the resume into a simple text file in Notepad. If the text is readable and more or less follows its original structure, the template should be ATS-friendly. If you can’t select or copy the text at all, no ATS will be able to parse it either—that’s why your safest bet is to send your resume as a Word or PDF file.
To make your resume more ATS-compliant, you should also remove any images and tables. They might confuse the applicant tracking system that your desired workplace uses.
Expert Hint: The so-called infographic resumes are certainly good-looking. But unfortunately, most of them will fail any ATS check—that’s because they are often sent as image files.
2. Make Your ATS Resume Tailored to the Job Offer
Remember that ATSs will be comparing the content of your resume to the original job posting. To qualify as a match, an ATS-compliant resume must contain the right number of words and phrases from the offer. That’s why you must make a targeted resume. Use relevant resume keywords that closely match the requirements of the job application.
3. Follow an ATS-Friendly Resume Format
The chronological resume format has the most ATS-friendly structure. It’s clearly divided into resume sections and presents the candidate’s career achievements starting with the most recent ones. Other resume formats, such as functional resume or combination resume, might get rejected by ATS scans.
ATS scans can’t read fancy documents with creative fonts. To make sure your resume is ATS-friendly, go with classic resume fonts, and aim for a simple resume layout. Don't forget to leave ample white space by setting your resume margins to 1 inch on all sides.
4. Put Your Name and Contact Info at the Top
Your resume header is the one and only place where your name and contact information belong. Don’t put any unnecessary information there. Since ATS scans read from top to bottom and left to right, you want them to notice your name and contact details straight away.
Expert Hint: If the job ad says you should add your home address, do it to stay on the safe side—the ATS may require such info. If you’re not sure how detailed your address has to be, take a look at our dedicated guide on how to put your address on a resume.
5. Include Relevant Information
When drafting your resume job descriptions, see to it that your most recent job comes up top, and it’s followed by the ones you held previously. Remember to include your job titles, as they’re one type of information that ATS bots look for. Carefully read the job advertisement to ensure your resume sections include all the relevant information a hiring manager may expect.
6. Highlight the Skills That Match the Job Ad
Make sure the skills you put on a resume align with what’s outlined in the job offer. Sprinkle them throughout the entire document, rather than just put them on a list. During the ATS resume scanning, the system will extract the skills from your resume to see how much they fit the job description. Hard skills usually take priority over soft skills, so make your resume more ATS-friendly by including more of the former.
7. Run a Free ATS Resume Scan
The Internet is full of free goodies. And if you’re determined enough, you can find almost anything. If you want to ensure that your resume is 100% ATS compliant, you can use an ATS resume checker for free online.
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ATS-Friendly Resume Templates
Have a look at a selection of our ATS resume templates. Each of them has been designed by a team of professional resume writers, HR experts, and graphic designers. They’ve been specifically created to be both ATS-compliant and recruiter-friendly.
This ATS-friendly resume template has a two-column resume layout and bar graphs that represent your level of proficiency.
The name says it all: this classic template features a one-column layout and no frills. The subtle use of color helps to highlight sections in this ATS resume template.
In this ATS-friendly resume, we have a sidebar that’s been specifically designed to make all the dates stand out.
This ATS-friendly resume incorporates resume icons that help the reader quickly locate each section.
This ATS-friendly resume template gives you a lot of space for the experience section. It also includes a visual scale for grading your skills.
Diamond is an ATS-friendly resume that has an infographic-like timeline, which gives the document a nice flow and directs the reader’s eye from top to bottom.
Need to fit a lot of information on your resume? This ATS-compliant resume template is a great choice for you. The two-column layout helps to accommodate info on one page. You can change the background color of the right-side column to fit your preferences.
Professional doesn’t mean boring, and this ATS-friendly resume template proves it. The subtle addition of resume icons helps to navigate the document.
This ATS resume has a prominent header for your contact details, social media handles, or address.
Initials is an ATS-compliant resume that gives you a lot of room for your professional accomplishments. It also has a graphical element with your initials.
Want a minimalist resume that still looks contemporary? Then this is the perfect ATS template for you. Just change the colors of the headings the way you want, enter your information, and voilà.
This ATS resume template makes great use of subtle graphical elements next to each section heading and large accent bars at the top and bottom of each column. Also, you get a visual scale for the skills section.
This ATS-optimized resume template uses subtle lines to separate resume sections from each other. The ribbons next to each section’s title make it super easy to navigate through.
Nanica, an ATS-friendly resume template, represents simplicity at its best. It’s an entirely distraction-free ATS resume format.
This simple ATS resume follows a single-column layout. Each section heading includes a resume icon for easy navigation.
This is an ATS-optimized resume template for enthusiasts of visuals. The resume icons indicate the beginning of each section, and the minimalist timelines help to create a smooth transition between various resume parts.
Want a basic ATS resume template? This is it. It displays the candidate’s name, profile, and essential qualifications on the top half of the document, making them easy to spot by hiring managers.
It’s a very classy ATS resume design. The timeless one-column layout is perfect for candidates who want their qualifications to speak for themselves.
Another proof that classic doesn’t have to be boring. However, if the font used for headers is too laid-back for your taste, you can always change it to a more traditional one.
Just like our other templates, this one is great for creating an ATS-optimized resume. It seamlessly combines professional with modern thanks to the resume icons that highlight resume sections.
Making an ATS-compliant resume is much easier when the template has already been optimized. You can personalize this one by switching the colors of timelines and bullet points, rearranging the resume order, or trying out different fonts.
Expert Hint: Not all online resume builders are ATS friendly. Some free templates may include visual elements that can’t be read by ATS scans. This means that they will be rejected. Go for templates that don’t feature excessive imagery.
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Here’s a quick reminder on how to make an ATS resume:
- Use an ATS-friendly resume template.
- Tailor your resume to the job offer.
- Follow an ATS-compatible resume format.
- Write your name and contact information at the top.
- Include relevant information in resume descriptions.
- Pick the skills that match the job requirements.
- Try a free ATS resume scan.
How did you like our article on the ATS resume? Do you have any helpful tips you’d like to share? Let’s talk about it in the comments below, and, as always, thanks for reading!
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Frequently Asked Questions About ATS Resumes
What is an ATS-friendly resume?
An ATS-friendly resume's goal is to pass through applicant tracking systems. To make your resume ATS-friendly, you should use easy-to-scan resume formatting and include resume keywords from the job ad. You should also remove any images and tables, as they might confuse the applicant tracking system.
How to write an ATS-friendly resume?
To create an ATS-friendly resume, use a clean resume layout, include relevant keywords from the job ad. Stick to standard section headings like "Work Experience" and "Skills." Submit it in DOC, or PDF formats. Proofread thoroughly to avoid errors that can confuse the ATS and harm your chances.
How does the ATS work?
It's pretty straightforward. The applicant tracking system scans your resume for job-related keywords and determines if you are a good match for the position. That means you're doomed to fail if you're not using an optimized ATS resume template.