Is your resume ATS friendly?

Each week, TopResume's career advice expert, Amanda Augustine, answers user questions like the one below from Quora and the Ask Amanda form. A certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), Amanda has been helping professionals to improve their careers for over 10 years. Have a question for Amanda? Submit it here.

How can I tell if I have an ATS-friendly resume?

“How can I test my resume for ATS readability?” — Quora user

Before you determine if your resume would pass the test for its “ATS readability” during the job search, first make sure you're applying these resume-writing best practices to your document:

  1. Avoid placing important details like your contact information in the header or footer of your resume document.

  2. Less is more when it comes to your resume format. Stick to a simple, clean resume design that doesn't include embedded charts, images, or unusual fonts.

  3. Steer clear of right-hand columns. If you plan to use a resume design that incorporates columns, opt for a left-hand rail or column. Unfortunately, resumes with a right-hand rail or column do not always pass through the ATS.

  4. Customize your resume with relevant keywords. Identify the important resume keywords found in the specific job listings that interest you and incorporate them throughout, particularly in the “Key Skills” and “Work Experience” sections.

  5. Save your resume as a Word document file type. Unfortunately, there are still some ATS resume scanning platforms that cannot convert PDF, HTML, Open Office, or Apple Pages documents and will discard resumes that are saved in such document formats.

An ATS resume checker designed to elevate your resume above the rest

Our ATS resume checker scans your resume and provides pertinent information so you know what changes to make to help you get past an employer's ATS. By making the necessary changes and updates based on our ATS resume checker recommendations, you can create a resume that stands out from the competition.

What our ATS resume checker scans

Our free ATS resume checker scans the following:

  • File type: ATS scans convert file uploads - and not all file types are convertible. Learn if your resume file type is ATS-friendly. 

  • Section headings and layout: Information is parsed by an ATS using section headings (i.e. Work Experience and Education). If you use a non-standard layout or section headings, the ATS might not be able to translate your resume accurately. 

  • Date formatting: It's necessary to use the correct formatting for dates on your resume. Doing so allows the ATS scanner to correctly calculate your years of experience for each position you list. 
  • Font type and size: When an ATS can't read your font, it won't be able to parse the information on your resume correctly. This could mean you'll lose out on showing up in employer keyword searches. 
  • Alignment: An ATS can't read left-aligned columns or text alignment that goes against the norm. Find out if your resume's alignment passes an ATS.  
  • Graphics, images, charts, and tables: ATS checkers can't properly analyze embedded images, graphics, charts, or tables. Our free ATS resume checker highlights any unusual formatting or media that needs to be removed. 
  • Keywords: Keywords help your resume to show up in keyword searches. Learn if the right keywords are being read by the ATS. 
  • Scannability: There are some regions of a resume, like the header and footer areas, that an ATS checker can't read. You'll learn if there are sections of your resume that aren't scannable with our free ATS resume scanner. 

Comprehensive keyword analysis: Discover the power words that resonate with hiring managers

You should incorporate keywords into your resume based on the job posting for the position you're applying to. Our comprehensive keyword analysis highlights whether or not your resume includes the right type and number of keywords that not only get past an ATS but also grab the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.

In-depth formatting feedback: ensure your resume's layout and design are ATS-optimized

Every detail on your resume matters when your goal is to make it past an ATS and into the hands of a hiring manager. Our ATS resume checker scans everything from font size, font type, and file type to section headings, date formatting, and text alignment to ensure it adheres to standard practices that meet ATS requirements.

Tailored skill highlighting: Pinpoint the skills that matter most for your desired role

A combination of relevant hard and soft skills is necessary to make your resume stand out. Incorporating the right combination of buzzwords and industry jargon is also necessary. With our ATS resume checker, you'll learn what skills are most important for the role you're applying to so you can make adjustments and land interview after interview.

How our ATS resume checker works

Our TopResume professional resume-writing service offers job seekers a free ATS scan review as part of its free resume review. Here's how our free ATS scan works:

1. Show us your current resume

Simply upload your current resume to be reviewed. It's easy - just drag and drop!

2. Give us 48 hours

Allow us up to 48 hours to review your resume and provide you with customized feedback. 

3. View your results

Finally, view your actionable results!

Our ATS resume checker will tell you:

  • If an ATS will be able to read your resume

  • What information an ATS will pull from your resume

  • What information the ATS won't be able to identify and retrieve

  • The top keywords and skills your resume currently ranks for

  • How the ATS interprets your skills, experience, and the industries where have expertise

If the ATS resume scanner is unable to identify any of this important information, or thinks you're a fit for a job that you're not, then your resume did not pass the ATS readability test and runs the risk of not getting in the hands of hiring managers or recruiters.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an ATS resume checker?

In most instances, before your resume reaches the hands of a human, it passes through an ATS or Applicant Tracking System. An ATS is a type of resume-reading software employers and recruiters use to collect, scan, sort, and rank the job applications received for job postings. A qualified candidate could be passed over if their resume isn't written with an ATS in mind. 

TopResume's ATS resume checker analyzes a job candidate's resume to identify if it's ATS-friendly. The results allow you to make necessary adjustments and optimize your resume to pass an employer's ATS, increasing your chances of getting an interview and landing the job.

How does our checker differ from others on the market?

Our free ATS resume scanner is similar to the ATS used by most job boards. As a result, you get feedback that's relevant to the majority of job applications you submit online. 

Also, as part of our paid resume service, we offer a detailed critique with expert writers who show you step-by-step guidelines for getting past an ATS. 

What specific elements does our tool evaluate in a resume?

TopResume's ATS checker evaluates the formatting and readability of your resume to determine if it's ATS-friendly. These checks include font type, font size, alignment, images, tables, headers and footers, margins, and more. You'll learn how the ATS interprets your skills, work experience, the industries you have expertise in, and whether it identifies you as a best fit for the types of jobs you seek. 

How can I ensure that my resume is both ATS-friendly and appealing to human recruiters?

What's great about an ATS-friendly resume is that it's appealing to both Applicant Tracking Systems and human recruiters. An ATS-friendly resume should use a standard layout and formatting, which human resume readers prefer. 

Relevant keywords and skills from the job description should also be incorporated into your resume to help you pass the ATS scan and catch the attention of hiring managers. 

It's also advisable to save your resume in a .docx Word file, since some ATS resume checkers still can't convert file types like PDF, HTML, Apple Pages, or Open Office versions.  

Do most companies use ATS systems in their hiring process?

Applicant Tracking Systems are used by nearly all Fortune 500 companies and 75% of recruiters to scan job applications. An ATS helps to streamline an employer's recruiting and hiring process by collecting job applicant documentation from the various job boards they use. By using an ATS, recruiters are able to more efficiently collect a high volume of applications and filter candidate information by experience, skills, location, and more. 

Find out if your resume will pass that ATS test with flying colors and help you land more interviews. Request a free review from TopResume today!

Read Amanda Augustine's answer to "How can I test my resume for ATS readability?" on Quora. 

This article was originally written by Amanda Augustine and has been updated by Ronda Suder. 

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