5 Ways to Beat the System Filtering Out Your Resume

How to Outsmart Applicant Tracking Systems


Have you ever questioned why you didn’t get a call-back for a job you know you were qualified for? It’s most likely that your resume, along with 75% of others, were deemed unfit by an applicant tracking system. If you submitted a resume that wasn’t formatted a certain way, or did not contain certain key words or phrases, it could easily be mistakenly categorized as a bad match for the company. While it’s well known that these systems are deeply flawed, they still benefit recruiters immensely and are here to stay. How do you beat the ATS algorithm and land an interview?


Read on for my 5 tips to beat applicant tracking systems:


1: Save the synonyms

Many people think that having a unique resume will stand out to potential employers. This thought process is untrue if your resume is going through the ringer of an applicant tracking system. Be sure to use straight forward key words, and reference the verbiage used in the job listing directly.


2: Don’t start with dates

Applicant tracking systems look for company names first. Never list your work history beginning with the dates of each position you have held. List your work experience by your employer’s name, followed by the title you held, followed by the dates you held that title. Any little formatting tweak you can make to have your resume imported correctly into an ATS is helpful!


3: Ditch the graphics

Since these tracking systems import your resume into a different database, they can’t read any graphics or tables you create. For example, an ATS will read a table up and down, as opposed to left to right. Save yourself time and keep your resume text only.


4: Submit a longer resume

It’s been ingrained in our minds to keep our resumes short, concise and preferably only one page long. However, your resume can be one page or four and applicant tracking systems won’t know the difference. Use this to your advantage to list as many keywords, phrases, software and work experiences as you can.


5: Add additional keywords in white font

This is one of my favorite secret tips! Add as many relevant keywords as you can to the end of your resume in white font. Recruiters will not be able to see them, but the tracking system will still recognize them up which will increase your chances of ranking higher in the system.
Put them in as a long list separated by commas at the end of your resume, the ATS will pick up on all of these keywords!


The job hunt is already complicated and the extra road block of an applicant tracking system may seem daunting. Remember that your resume may be sorted through a system, so do everything you can to beat the system and get past the initial application process. Prioritize keywords and formatting and you will surely be interviewing with your top choice companies soon!

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