How To Write Your Resume For An Applicant Tracking System

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As a 21st century job seeker, it’s important to understand the status quo for resumes: around half of all mid-sized companies and almost all large corporations use some type of applicant tracking system to review them. In other words, a computer is screening your resume way before a human employer sees it. Employers receive so many resumes every day; the systems are simply necessary.

Because so many employers are using these systems, it is essential to write your resume with the applicant tracking system in mind. It’s all about keywords. With that in mind, here are some ways to write your resume for an applicant tracking system:

Do some research.

You need to determine the best keywords for each specific position for which you apply. The best way to narrow down these keywords is research.

One good research method is to insert job postings into a keyword aggregator like This site creates a tag cloud, highlighting the most frequently-used keywords in the posting. Then you can implement these words into your resume (honestly, of course!).

Another research option is social media. On LinkedIn, for example, you can find other people who might be applying for similar jobs and see what words they use in their resumes. Alter your resume to compete with these people.

Include keywords multiple times.

Once you’ve determined the best keywords for the specific job opening, implement them into your resume multiple times. The more they appear, the higher up you will be ranked. You can’t possibly know how many times your competitors will use these words, so be strategic.

Don’t go overboard, though. You should not repeat full sentences or include keywords out of context. Remember, a human will still be reading your resume at some point, too. Include keywords where they make sense.

Use both abbreviations and full titles.

Keep in mind, a computer is not going to be able to associate an abbreviation with a full job title. It’s important to list both versions in your resume history so either can be caught as a keyword. For example, if you were the Chief Financial Officer, you should spell it out and include CFO in parentheses. Now, no matter which keyword the employer searches for, you will be found in the results.

Use keywords on social media, too.

You should write your social media profiles with the same mindset as your resume. Keywords, keywords, keywords. An applicant tracking system works just like a Google search, so be sure to focus on the keywords in order to be found by employers on LinkedIn.

An applicant tracking system makes employers lives easier, so it’s important to suck it up and take these extra steps in your resume. The right keywords could be the difference in landing your next job interview.

What other advice do you have for writing a resume for an applicant tracking system?

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