How To Write an ATS-Friendly Resume in 6 Easy Steps


Most companies these days rely on AI-based application screening software to go through applications. This makes their hiring process much more streamlined and reduces human bias when narrowing down applicants.

In fact, over 50% of companies around the world have incorporated AI into their hiring process. These bots are known as Application Tracking Systems or ATS for short.

Learning how to write a resume that gets the green light from the ATS is crucial in today’s world if you are looking to get hired in an established company. However, as AI-driven hiring is a relatively new system, many people still do not know how to make their resumes ATS-friendly. In such cases, their resume goes into the declined list, even if the person in question has one of the best skills and qualifications amongst applicants.

To improve your chances of getting hired, you must learn how to write an ATS-friendly resume. Luckily, it can be done in 6 easy steps.

1. Upload your resume as a Microsoft Word doc

PDF was regarded as the standard format for any resume prior to AI hiring, however, now a resume in PDF format can kill your chances of getting hired. Most application bots today are incompatible with PDF files, rendering the format unreadable. This will translate to an instant rejection. To ensure this does not happen, always upload your resume as a .doc or .docx word document, which is the standard format for the ATS.

2. Ensure that your resume has the proper keywords

An ATS determines if you are qualified or not based on how your keywords match the job description. For example, if the job description requires a programmer, the keywords would most likely be Python, C++, Java and anything related to the field.

If your resume does not include the proper keywords for the job description, the AI will assume that you are not a good fit for the role. It will then reject your application. In order to convince the AI of your expertise, ensure that your resume has all the proper keywords.

Also, remember that moderation is the best. An overuse of keywords can also have an adverse effect as the AI will flag it as suspicious. Ideally, you want to have a reasonable number of keywords throughout your resume.

Related: How to Craft the Perfect Resume

3. Avoid crucial information in headers and footers

Most versions of the AI bots in an ATS are unable to read information in the header and footer of a document. Traditional resumes usually include names and contact information in these sections, however, as the AI will not be able to read it, it will assume that you’ve omitted crucial information, which will cause your application to be rejected by the AI.

Thus, find another place on your resume to put these key details, ideally in the body of your resume, or somewhere on the side of the page.

4. Use a “hybrid” resume format

A hybrid resume format is essentially the standard resume, but combined with a quick professional summary, along with a small key skills section. It must also be formatted in terms of chronological achievements and work history.

This is because the AI requires data to be arranged in chronological order. If it is not, the AI will not be able to read your resume properly.

Related: The Secrets to Securing Relevant Work Experience

5. Use basic formatting, do not use any unique formats

When the ATS receives your resume, it will convert it into a text-only file. That means if you have included graphics or anything fancy, it makes it much harder for the bots to read your resume, and it will sift it into the rejected pile.

To ensure that the bot can fully read your resume and send it along to an interviewer, always make sure that you avoid fancy formats. Here are a few examples of things that you should not include in your bot-friendly resume.

  • Photos or images
  • Logos or graphics
  • Custom bullet points. Stick to the standard circle or square.
  • Colors used to highlight certain words
  • Charts or graphs
  • Columns or statistics
  • Tables
  • Unique fonts. Stick to Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Formatting of words such as bolding, italicizing, or underlining

6. Ensure that your resume complies with the ATS bots’ guidelines.

There is a simple way to make sure that your resume is bot-friendly. That is to copy and paste it into a plain text converter. When you do this, you can see your resume as how the bot would see it. Make sure that the text is organized and that there are no contents that are missing.

When going through a text-only converter, certain things might become disorganized or even be deleted. In this situation, the bot would reject your application due to unreadability or lack of crucial information.

So, before sending in your resume, run it through a text-only converter. Make sure that the formatting is organized and all the information is there. This will ensure that your resume is completely bot friendly!