10 Ways To Pass Automated Screening For Resumes (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many companies now use advanced automation software to review resumes and reduce work for their recruiting staff. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to help your resume pass through these screenings and progress to hiring managers. If you are preparing to submit a resume, it might be beneficial to learn more about optimising it for automated screenings.

In this article, we explain what automated screening software is, describe why companies use it and provide 10 tips to help your resume pass through automated screenings.

What Is Automated Screening For Resumes?

Automated screening for resumes is part of many applicant tracking systems (ATS). This is a type of software used by recruiters, human resources representatives and others to streamline the hiring process and track candidates. ATS platforms screen resumes by dividing them into different sections. These categories vary depending on the company using them but often include work experiences, skills, education and contact information.

The ATS software then searches for the specific keywords and phrases that relate to the job and company where you are applying. Companies may use ATS software to screen resumes received through emails, online portals or other digital methods. Larger businesses with more employees are more likely to use these software platforms in their hiring processes since it can significantly reduce their workload.

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

Why Do Companies Use Automated Screening Software?

Companies use automated screening software to quickly review many job applications. Some companies receive hundreds or even thousands of applications for each job posting. Hiring managers often find it challenging to read and review that many applications, especially since they frequently recruit for more than one position at a time. ATS software helps recruiters and other professionals find qualified candidates more quickly by automating repeatable work. With ATS software, employers can optimise their hiring process and fill job positions faster.

Related: How To Create A Resume PDF

10 Ways To Help Your Resume Pass Automated Screenings

If you expect your resume to pass through an ATS system, there are several simple ways to improve its chances of getting past the screening. Here are 10 ways to optimise your resume for automated screening software:

1. Use keywords

One of the best ways to optimise your resume for ATS is by including keywords. Resume keywords are words or phrases that describe your qualifications for a specific job. Keywords vary based on the job position, years of experience required, company and related factors. The best way to figure out likely resume keywords for a particular role is to carefully review the job posting. Look for specific words the posting uses to describe their ideal candidate's experiences or skills. If you believe you fit the job description, incorporate those exact words or phrases into your resume.

Another great way to find keywords is to research the company. Read over their mission statement, values and company culture. Consider and include in your resume qualifications that relate to the company's vision, ideals, work environment and community. If you are part of a professional organisation for your industry or job, you might also discuss possible resume keywords with fellow members.

Related: How To Review A Resume (With Helpful Tips And Benefits)

2. Put your keywords in context

When you include keywords, it is important to integrate them into the rest of your resume. Most ATS programs prefer applications that do not list one keyword right after another, like a skills section filled with only keywords. ATS software is more likely to approve resumes that incorporate keywords into the rest of their text.

After you have decided on your keywords, elaborate on your skills or experiences related to that keyword. For example, say that your keywords are motivated, communication and photo editing. Instead of just listing those words on your resume, you could write bullet points related to specific work experiences that integrate these keywords, such as:

  • Managed telephone, email and other communication methods for the entire office.

  • Proficient at photo editing with both web- and computer-based programs.

  • Highly motivated to find employment at a dynamic and hard-working company.

3. Use a file format that ATS can read

When preparing your resume, you have many file formatting options. For example, many candidates choose to save their resumes in PDF format because it is easier to read on a variety of devices and preserves formatting well. One of the disadvantages of PDF files is that they are often more challenging for ATS systems to read. Some automated screening platforms register PDFs as images instead of reading them like text documents.

If you expect your resume to encounter ATS, consider saving your resume in text format instead of as a PDF. There are several different text formats available, depending on the word processor you use. For Microsoft Word documents, you can use .docx format, while .txt, .rtf and .doc formats are also acceptable.

4. Avoid unique formatting

In some cases, it may be tempting to enhance your resume with unique formatting or graphics. Although these elements might be helpful in some circumstances, they can make it more difficult for an automated screening software to read your resume and extract insights. Consider avoiding the following formatting elements if you expect ATS during the application process:

  • Graphs

  • Tables

  • Charts

  • Boxes

  • Graphics

  • Columns

  • Animations

  • Pictures

  • Coloured fonts or elements

  • Special characters, such as an asterisk or backslash, on the same line as your name

5. Update your resume for each job application

Although ATS programs largely function in the same ways, employers have the ability to customize their platforms. This allows them to search for particular keywords, find certain phrases and identify formats. If you are applying for multiple jobs, it is important to optimise your resume for each ATS system it might encounter. The best way to do this is to reference the original job postings and gather important keywords that you can include in your piece. You can also look on the company website to learn more about what it values in its employees.

6. Move your contact information to the body

Contact information is one of the most important elements of your resume, and it is helpful to include an email address and phone number in your document. In many cases, candidates include this information in a header at the top of the page for better visibility. While this works well if a recruiter reviews the document personally, some automation platforms have trouble reading the information in headers and footers. If your resume is likely to encounter ATS software, consider moving your name and contact information into the main body of the resume.

7. Optimise your document for ATS and human readers

If your resume passes through the automatic screening process, it may proceed to a recruiter's desk. Because of this, it is important to optimise your document for human readers and ATS software. When formatting your resume, make sure that it follows a logical format that describes your skills and qualifications clearly. It may also be helpful to look for resume examples and templates online to help you format the piece.

8. Simplify your phrasing

ATS screening functions may have trouble deciphering complicated phrases and sentence structures that would not be a challenge for human readers. Because of this, it is important to simplify your language. Try to avoid conversational language, idioms, metaphors and humorous language, as well as the passive voice. This is especially important when you are writing the heading for each section, as it makes it easier for the ATS to separate your resume into sections.

9. Ensure that your resume is scannable

Before you submit your document, it is important to ensure that it is scannable. You can do this by converting the resume into plain text and looking for any unusual formatting. You can see if any of your sections or headings have moved and ensure that the formatting is the same as it was. It is also vital to make sure that all the original information is present and that no part of the document converts into strange or unreadable characters.

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

10. Keep your resumes up to date

Some advanced ATS platforms have the ability to pull information from your resume and compare it with online sources, such as your social media profiles. In order to avoid any discrepancies, it is important to keep your resumes up to date and ensure that they match any information that is available online. For example, if your past jobs do not align with your resume, the program may flag your document as problematic.

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

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