How To Write An ATS Resume (With Steps, Template And Sample)

Updated 6 March 2023

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software tool that helps scan resumes for certain keywords. Hiring managers often use this tool to shortlist applications that meet specific criteria, such as skill levels, educational qualifications and job titles. Learning how this system works may help you draft an ATS-friendly resume and improve your chances of getting an interview call. In this article, we discuss what an ATS resume is, outline the steps to write one and share a template and an example resume that you can refer to while drafting yours.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

What Is An ATS Resume?

An ATS resume refers to a resume which follows a strategic structure that increases its probability of getting shortlisted by ATS software. The ATS scans and collects resumes before ranking them per their eligibility to meet the organisation's recruiting requirements. They act as electronic filters, especially when the volume of resumes is high. These systems reduce the workload of hiring managers by selecting resumes that are likely to be a good fit for the company.

These systems parse through text within a resume and import valuable information into a profile. After analysing the collected data, the ATS can pass the resume to the next stage of screening or reject it. That is why it is important to choose a resume template that helps you use relevant keywords and make it compliant with the ATS software.

Related: What Is An Applicant Tracking System? Definition And Tips

How To Write An ATS Resume

Here are a few steps you can follow to create an ATS-friendly resume:

1. Choose an appropriate template

A resume is your chance to create a positive first impression and improve your chances of getting shortlisted for the job. Focus on the resume content and layout, as an ATS may not read images, charts and other graphics. The layout you select may influence the content that the ATS reads and forwards to your potential employer. Select a template that looks professional, uses minimal colours and limits graphics.

Related: Best Font For Resume: How To Choose Type And Size

2. Define the sections of your resume

ATS-friendly resumes follow a structure and layout that favours the system. It enables the software to scan the document and improve its chances of selection. Many of these tracking systems may not scan items within the header and footer of the page. Ensure vital details such as your contact number and email are within the other areas of the resume template. Here are a few sections vital to a resume:

  • Heading: Add your name and job title in this section. Choose a simple and bold font that looks professional.

  • Professional summary: Provide a gist of your background, objective and skills in two or three sentences and modify it according to the job description. You may also include your contact details and highlight them appropriately for the system to read them.

  • Education or experience: Highlight your education and then experience or vice versa, depending on your level of expertise and relevancy to the position. Focus on the keywords you choose and be specific in the details you share, such as learning experience, outcome, role and functions.

  • Skills: Highlight relevant skills according to the job requirement and categorise them depending on your profession, like interpersonal skills or technical skills. Use this as an opportunity to add relevant keywords to your resume and optimise it for the software.

Related: Importance Of A Job Description (With Tips To Review It)

3. Use keyword optimisation

When an employer creates a job opening using ATS software, they feed specific keywords important to the job role. These are often a part of the job description and may act as your cue to include them in your resume. The system may overlook resumes without job-specific keywords, and these resumes may not reach the hiring managers. Look for industry-specific and role-specific terms that may occur multiple times in the job description. Ensure you include these keywords in your resume without over-using them. It is vital that these keywords come organically to your resume and do not look forced.

Related: How To Use Resume Keywords (With Templates And Examples)

4. Use specific details

Add specific details about your previous role and duties that make you suitable for the role. Even if you apply within the same field, the employer requirements for a job role may differ. Ensure to read and understand the job description and add the essential details. Keep the points brief while using job-appropriate keywords.

Related: How To Write A Resume Employers Will Notice

5. Save the file in an appropriate format

Different application tracking software may accept different file formats. A widely accepted file format is a PDF that allows you to save a file without compromising its content and format. Make sure to check the accepted file format before you submit your application. Some tracking software may require you to submit the resume in a .doc or .docx format. Create a template that allows you to change file formats easily without affecting document integrity.

Related: How To Create A Resume PDF

ATS-Friendly Resume Template

The ATS-friendly resume format may differ depending on whether you are applying for an entry-level or a senior position. When applying for an entry-level position, your education precedes your experience and skills. If you are applying for a position that requires relevant work experience, here is a resume template that you may follow:

[First name] [Last name], [Degree or certification, if applicable]

[Phone number] | [Email address] | [City], [State]

Professional Summary

[Two to three sentences that highlight years of experience, relevant skills, education or certifications and achievements as a professional].

Work Experience

(For the most recent role, list 5 experience items. For previous roles, list 3.)

[Job Title] | [Employment dates]

[Company Name] | [City], [State]

  • (Strong verb) + what you did (more detail) + reason, outcome or quantified results.

  • [Job duty]

  • [Job duty]

  • [Job duty]

  • [Job duty]

[Job Title] | [Employment dates]
[Company Name] | [City], [State]

  • [Job duty]

  • [Job duty]

  • [Job duty]


[Category]: [Skill] | [Skill] | [Skill] | [Skill] | [Skill] | [Skill]
[Category]: [Skill] | [Skill] | [Skill] | [Skill] | [Skill] | [Skill]

[Degree and major] | [Name of school or university]
[City], [State]

[Certification name], [Host organisation] - [Year completed or expiration date]

Related: How To Format An E-Resume (With Types And Benefits)

ATS-Friendly Resume Sample

An ATS-friendly resume incorporates necessary details and keywords specific to the industry and job role. Here is an example of a resume that you may refer to while drafting your resume for a specific job role in a company:

Simran Mehta, Bachelor of Science in marketing communications
+91 9876543210 | | Mumbai, Maharashtra

Professional Summary

A marketing communications professional with over seven years of experience in digital marketing, social media marketing and offline marketing for brands in the food and beverage, healthcare and finance industries. Looking to work as a Senior Marketing Specialist at Magic Marketers and use my skills in content strategy, influencer marketing and multi-channel marketing to help clients grow.

Work Experience

Senior Marketing Lead | May 2017-Current
Marketing Mania | Mumbai, Maharashtra

  • Oversee the marketing strategies and campaign execution for ten brands

  • Create content marketing strategies that helped increase website traffic by 80%

  • Develop marketing campaigns to increase 5x leads and 3x sales

  • Execute email marketing funnels and helped brands set up customer relationship management software (CRM)

  • Analyse insights from marketing campaigns to improve strategies

Marketing Specialist | May 2015-April 2017
Silverstone Marketing Pvt Ltd | Bengaluru, Karnataka

  • Created social media strategies for seven brands

  • Developed and executed social media influencers collaborations to improve brand reach by 10x

  • Scripted ad films for food and beverage and healthcare brands that improved sales by 3x


Technical skills: Content strategy | Marketing analytics | Digital ads | Native advertising | Video scripting

Interpersonal skills: Written communication | Team management | Leadership | Organisational skills


PGDM Marketing and Branding, Silvergate School of Art - 2020
B.Sc Marketing Communications, Ram Ratan School of Management
Bengaluru, Karnataka

Explore more articles

  • Should You Include Quotes On Your Resume? (And How To Do It)
  • How To Write A Financial Analyst Resume For Entry Level Role
  • Understanding Social Media Executive Duties: A Guide
  • Medical Assistant Skills For A Resume (With Examples)
  • Important Line Cook Resume Skills And How To Improve Them
  • Objective For A Business Student Resume (With Samples)
  • Examples Of Stage Management Skills And How To Improve Them
  • Guide: Resume Skills For A CEO (With Meaning and Examples)
  • How To Write A Civil Supervisor Resume (With Examples)
  • Operations Manager Cover Letter (With Template And Example)
  • Inside Sales Representative Skills: Definition And Examples
  • What Are Tradesman Skills? (With Definition And Examples)