The Best Way to Beat the Online Job Search Systems

Best Practices for Working With Applicant Tracking Systems

  • Use the descriptors “phone:” and “email:” in front of the phone number and email address so the applicant tracking system (ATS) can identify this information.
  • When listing dates for employment or education, put the dates to the right of the information or on a separate line.
  • Include section headers to make it easy for the applicant tracking system to categorize the information.
  • If you are working towards a degree or certification that is a requirement for the position, include it on the résumé — but make sure you include a phrase such as “Pursuing (name of credential)” or “Degree anticipated (date).”
  • Do not include skills you don’t possess on the résumé as an attempt to “trick” the applicant tracking system into selecting you. (Remember, the résumé will eventually be reviewed by a human.)
  • Check your email after applying for a position online. Some applicant tracking systems acknowledge submissions, but because these are automated responses, it may be diverted to your spam folder.
  • Be mindful of special characters and accents you use on your résumé. Some words and phrases can be misinterpreted by an applicant tracking system — for example, accented words. The word “résumé” itself is not ATS-friendly. The ATS does not recognize the accented letters. Instead, it reads it as “r?sum?.”
  • Do not list your credentials (MBA, CPA, etc.) next to your name. Include that information on a separate line.
  • Do not submit multiple résumés to the same company. Applicant tracking systems have a memory — all those previous submissions remain in the system. You can apply to multiple, related positions, but make sure the résumé information is consistent (i.e., the number of years in a particular job, for example), because the hiring manager will have access to the other versions too.

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A big dreamer as well as a big do-er, Madelyn draws on her experience of successfully navigating three high-profile careers to provide the expert advice, encouragement, and step-by-step action plans you need to activate your career dreams.

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