Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

By David Kilgour Employment Consultant, Thornhill Employment Hub

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are increasingly used today by many companies to screen out large volumes of resumes. ATS programs do this by using keyword searches. If your resume is missing keywords, you may not be contacted for an interview.


Here are a few tips to prepare your resume for Applicant Tracking Systems:


Target your resume for every position using key words from the job description. The days of "one-size-fits-all" resumes are long over. Use the exact job title from the posting, and incorporate keywords skillfully into the achievement/accomplishment bullet points on your resume. Be honest and only include keywords from the posting that match your actual skills and experience. Remember, you have to be able to back up everything on your resume in an interview!


Prepare your resume as a Word document and save it as a ".doc" file (Word 97-2003). This is a safe choice because not every ATS program is able to read ".docx" or PDF documents. Stick to simple formatting such as caps, bold and bullets, and avoid using complicated formats including resume templates, tables, text boxes or columns.


Standard fonts like Arial and Calibri are recommended, and avoid mixing different fonts together. An 11-point font size is a good choice. Special characters and accented letters may be misread by an applicant tracking system - for example, the word "résumé" may be read as "r?sum?". Remember that spelling counts - an ATS won´t recognize misspelled words, and when your resume is read by HR or a hiring manager you want to make sure it´s error-free.


Learn much more about optimizing your resume by attending the Resume Writing workshop at the Thornhill Employment Hub!