Applicant Tracking Systems and Your Resume

At Transition Solutions, we’ve been helping our clients navigate workforce changes for over 30 years. According to Capterra, an application tracking system reviews company, 75 percent of large companies use an ATS during the hiring process.

ATS is a workflow-oriented tool that helps organizations manage and track the pipeline of applicants in each step of the recruiting process. You want to ensure your resume format considers ATS when applying to large companies.

Accenture and Harvard Business School recently published a study on Hidden Workers and Untapped Talent. The study estimated that there are In the U.S., there are, more than 27 million hidden workers. Per the study, one of the core reasons for hidden workers is inflexibly configured ATS. Also, they suggest that a Recruiting Management or Marketing System (RMS) complements the ATS and supports recruiters in all activities related to the recruiting process. Together, these systems represent the foundation of the hiring process in a majority of organizations and can filter out qualified candidates.

Want to ensure your resume gets past ATS filters? Indeed recently shared four key areas to consider summarized below:

  1. Use appropriate file formats. While PDFs are excellent at preserving file data without compromising integrity, it’s not always best suited for ATS. There are multiple types of tracking software available, but not all of them accept PDFs. Before uploading a resume, make sure you check for a provided list of acceptable file formats. If it doesn’t list PDF as a viable option, upload a .doc or .docx version of the file.
  2. Avoid header and footer details. Not all tracking systems properly read and understand items within the header and footer. These areas are often where candidates place their contact information. If an ATS doesn’t read this information, the ATS might lose your contact information and have nothing for the employer to go by. Avoid this by placing your name, phone number and email address within other areas of your resume template.
  3. Use appropriate keyword optimization. During the scanning process, ATS searches for specific keywords set by the employer. Resumes without these keywords are often tossed away. One of the best ways of determining what keywords you can use is to read the job description provided in the listing. Look for role-specific terms that the article reuses multiple times. The more prevalent a specific keyword is, the more importance you should place on it within your own resume. Place these keywords throughout as necessary but avoid over-stuffing your resume with them.
  4. Avoid graphics. ATS cannot read images, charts and other graphics. Some candidates exhibit their skill levels in certain areas by showing them within charts. The only way an ATS captures that information is if it also appears written within another section. When choosing or creating an ATS resume template, avoid these as much as necessary.

Keep in mind the goal of your resume is to get an interview, so ensuring your resume is designed to make it through ATS and other gatekeepers is essential.


At Transition Solutions, we have been helping companies and individuals with workforce changes for thirty years. Our strong reputation for consistently delivering exceptional service at value sets us apart. If you would like more information on our services please check out our website at https://www.transitionsolutions.com/ or you can contact us directly at 888-424-0003 or email us at info@transitionsolutions.com.

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