How to Get Your Resume Past the ATS into the Hands of a Recruiter?

So here you go, you have drafted a power-packed resume and desire to work for corporate majors. You get on the corporate website and choose to apply for open positions, wherein your skills, qualifications, and experiences are a perfect fit.

When you arrive at most corporate career application platforms online, you are guided to a web page requesting details for verification of your identity and credentials. This includes your date of birth, qualifications, the year of examinations passed, past experiences, tenure with last organizations, and many other such parameters designed to meet the industry standards.

Filling out these detailed applications is a time-consuming exercise, but this does not dither the confidence and belief of genuine career aspirants from applying further. Investing some time over weekends to fill in the application, draft a self-explanatory cover letter by embedding in relevant keywords and shooting out applications, has almost become an integral part of your weekend chore now.

But the worry continues to linger if your candidature will make it through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and land into the hands of the recruiter successfully to get shortlisted for further rounds.

Recruiters have very little time on hand to screen sheer volume of resumes added to the database. Hence they need software systems to aid preliminary screening of applications. Thanks to the advancements in technology, reaching out to talent with relevant knowledge, skills and experience have gotten a lot easier with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) deployed by reputed corporate majors.

Many at times best of the candidacy gets dropped out from preliminary evaluation and analysis since applications are scanned using ATS. Observing from the trends on how ATS works, we understand a couple of reasons on why you’re dropped out by the system at the onset.

Some among them are – your resume could lack impact, usage of effective keywords to elaborate on your experiences and educational qualifications to enhance its relevance to the job role. The reliance on ATS system is only increasing day by day, so we do need appropriate guidance on how to hack our way through.

Here are some tips to seek a breakthrough, through the walls of the ATS and accelerate your career on the right pathway:


  • Keep the formatting simple

While you might want your creativity and individuality to be reflected in your resume, choosing complex fonts, odd structuring formats and lack of relevant keywords can automatically decrease your chances of getting shortlisted, even if the initial analysis is performed by a human and not via bots or ATS.

As a rule, use simple formatting and standardized fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial, and Verdana for increased reach and easy readability. Only send resumes using Word or rich text format, as most systems are still struggling to read through applications in PDFs.

  • Embed relevant keywords, but do not stuff it

Your resume should comprise of relevant industry keywords and technical jargons as need be. However, please remember never to overdo it. Since ATS systems today are smart enough to seep into the information presented and decipher if it’s a Spam or genuine application. Stay off the radar by implementing keyword usage wisely and increase your chances of getting shortlisted by global corporate brands.

You can use web services such as TagCrowd and Wordle to know keywords to focus on and sprinkle them throughout your CV.  Important skill-related keywords should be used only three times max on your resume and not more.

  • Use Acronym and Spelled out Version Both

Use both acronyms and spelled out version when you list qualifications from reputed institutions, organization names and degrees. It increases chances of your candidature to be shortlisted, irrespective of the ATS implemented by the corporate brand.

For example, if you are qualified from MIT, you can also write the full form as ‘Massachusetts Institute of Technology’ for a better understanding of the reader, assuming that not all recruiters are familiar with the name of institutions and industry acronyms.

  • Thoroughly spell check and proofread

Your resume and cover letter should be thoroughly proofread and spellchecked before you send out an application. If you are vying to get noticed amidst competition, the key is to focus on quality deliverables at all times. Spelling mistakes if identified should be rectified immediately before your resume gets deposited in the company database using ATS.

Also, the programmed system as such lacks human understanding to know mistakes that can happen out of acts of carelessness at times. So, if you are keen on working for an industry-wide reputed brand, be certain that silly mistakes will not be appreciated or tolerated.

The interviewer sees your candidacy in the light of seriousness, to understand and interpret if you are keen on working for the company and the value you can add on. Do not allow disappointments to overshadow your worthy caliber.

Implying these rules can help you get past the bot army staring at you right in the eye, and demanding answers to questions in specifics with appropriate date and time of completion of your past endeavours. Do not manipulate with facts and figures here, since every fact you enter is stored on the company servers and forms an integral part of the recruiter database.

So if you think you can smartly manipulate your CV only to make it through the ATS, there comes a time when your resume falls into the hands of the recruiter. The facts as stated in your resume are then cross-verified to get you set in a state of a fix. It could then make you feel ashamed of your wrongdoings.

Practice the principle of honesty and encapsulate your career journey into two pages maximum by adhering to the rules of specifics and concise representation.


Read: Knowing Your Self-Worth Before Negotiating Salary