Beat the ATS: How to Get Your Application Seen by a Human Being

Beat the ATS: How to Get Your Application Seen by a Human Being
Image: Pexels, Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio

What is an ATS? ATS stands for applicant tracking system, which is a recruiting software that scans and matches resumes to job descriptions. You may recognize the names BambooHR, Bullhorn, or Greenhouse—all applicant tracking systems. When submitting your application online, you can look at the URL to see if one of those names or another company (a company other than the one you’re applying to) appears. If yes, then the company is likely using an ATS. 

Why is it important to know when your application is going through an ATS? According to Jobscan, 99% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS. If you know that you’re submitting your application through an ATS, then you can prepare your application materials to get past the software. An ATS cannot read unique formatting or symbols. It is scanning resumes for words that match the job description. If the ATS cannot read your resume you may not be selected to move forward in the process, despite being a good candidate for the role.

It’s best to keep your resume basic and factual. Let your personality shine through your cover letter instead. Below are some tips to help you get past the ATS screening and in front of a real human being:

1. Use a free word cloud generator to see which words are most often used in the job description. These are likely the key skills and job functions that the employer is looking for in their next employee. Be sure to incorporate these words throughout your resume and cover letter.

2. Your word choice is very important. Use standard words and phrases for your resume’s section headers. For example, use “Work Experience” rather than “Past Adventures.” If a skill involves a tool that is commonly referred to by its abbreviation, then utilize the full name as well as the abbreviation. For example, when you have experience with Salesforce or a similar tool, refer to it as the “Salesforce CRM (Customer Relationship Management).”

3. Font matters! Times New Roman, Arial, and Helvetica are best for keeping your resume readable, clean, and simple. In the continued effort to make your resume readable, make the font size 11 or 12.

4. Blank space is your friend. Keep 1 inch margins on all sides of your resume so that it does not feel crowded. Remember, you do not need to include everything in your resume. If it feels essential, then include it and let your resume run onto a second page.

5. Lastly, structure your resume to be ATS-friendly. This means avoiding the use of tables and charts. Bullet points are ideal to use in your resume. However, only use standard bullet points, rather than fancy symbols. Need a template, try Jobscan’s Free Professional Resume Templates!

– Mary-kate Grohoski, Sales Manager

Put these tips to use by finding your next job on NYFA Classifieds, the go-to listings site for artists, arts administrators, and museum professionals. Follow us @nyfa_classifieds on TikTok for more creative career tips.

Mary-Kate Grohoski
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