Creating Resumes for Applicant Tracking Systems

If you upload your resume to a company or job board website, you are most likely uploading your document to an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software. The ATS will scan your resume based on criteria set by the company and the hiring manager. The software will make the first decision. If your resume meets the criteria, your name will be included in a report sent to HR. If your resume does not meet the criteria, the resume has fallen into a black hole, never to be seen again!

Decades ago, the ATS simply counted keywords and sent a report to HR. Then the HR representative looked over the list and sent the top 5 or 6 candidates to the hiring manager. So your resume went through at least two rounds of sorting and ranking before any person with actual hiring authority ever saw it.

Today, ATS software is much more sophisticated and will contextualize resume information based on achievements, rather than just counting words. So your resume must provide concrete, quantifiable, and qualifiable accomplishments. As we have discussed in other posts, you must target your resume to the position and the company using the job description and your research into the company.

Verbs to Get You Noticed

Below I have provided some excellent verbs that will get your resume noticed when you use these verbs to introduce accomplishments in your bullets.

  • Achieved
  • Improved
  • Trained
  • Mentored
  • Managed
  • Created
  • Resolved
  • Volunteered
  • Increased
  • Decreased
  • Reduced
  • Negotiated

Words to Avoid

There are words and phrases that have been identified as turn-offs for hiring managers. So think twice before using these clichés in your job search documents. There are ways to write bullets that demonstrate your successes without using these words and phrases. Below are some of the words that hiring managers do not want to see on a resume:

  • Go-getter
  • Synergy
  • Go-to person
  • Results-driven
  • Think outside the box
  • Value added
  • Team player
  • Hard worker

Of course, there are ways to write excellent bullets that demonstrate just what you bring to the company without using any of these unoriginal phrases. Well-written bullets are accomplishment-oriented and targeted to the position and the company.