How to Write an ATS Resume (With Template and Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 9 November 2022

Published 29 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When you submit your resume to potential employers, it often goes through an applicant tracking system (ATS) that searches for specific keywords. An ATS can help hiring managers sort through large quantities of resumes by only allowing resumes that meet certain criteria. Creating an ATS-friendly resume can increase your chances of getting an interview. In this article, we discuss how to write an ATS-friendly resume and provide an example and template to help you create your own.

Related: What Is an E-Resume and Why Is It Important? (With Types)

How to write an ATS resume

If you want to learn how to write an ATS resume, it's important to first understand what an ATS is. An ATS, or applicant tracking system, is software used by many employers to collect, sort and rank the resumes they receive. Originally, large employers used ATS technology to narrow down large applicant pools. ATS technology may become more prevalent in the coming years, as it aims to highlight the most qualified candidates for positions and can save time during the hiring process. Here are the steps you can take to create an ATS-friendly resume:

1. Consider the job posting

When applying for a job, consider taking a more in-depth look at the company's job posting. Review it thoroughly, looking at how they describe particular duties or responsibilities and the kind of candidate they're looking for. Examine the job posting several times if necessary and look for repetition or patterns.

Related: 6 Universal Rules for Writing Your Resume

2. Gather a list of keywords

After studying the job posting, create a list of keywords. Begin with keywords you know by default for the position, then determine which phrases or words the job posting repeated the most within the description. Sort them by order of importance and use them accordingly throughout your resume.

Related: Keywords for a Resume: Definition and Tips

3. Use standard headings

An ATS often imports data from a resume into an online profile. When translating information, it may scan for specific formatting structures and headings. Thus, keep your resume clean and simple to make sure that the information translates properly. For instance, headings such as Experience, Work Experience and Work History are easily identifiable, as they're the most common resume headings.

Related: 5 Steps For Producing an Effective Creative Resume

4. Use simple formatting

Footers, headers, columns and tables are great methods of organising complex information on a resume, but when an ATS translates this information, information within such complex formatting may get lost or scattered. If some of your most important information resides in similar formatting, the ATS might miss it. Thus, use simple formatting.

Related: A Guide on How to Format Biodata on a Resume (With Example)

5. Prioritise readability over artistic layouts

Some employers, especially in the creative industry, may prefer to see a resume with an artistic layout. Hence, before you start creating a graphics-heavy resume, it's important to know that it may cause an ATS to get confused about the content of your resume. In these cases, instead of accepting the document, some systems may reject it completely. If the company you're applying to use an ATS, the benefit might not be worth the risk when it comes to making your resume look creative and artful. Thus, consider creating a strong resume that uses clear, readable fonts and a simple format.

6. Create multiple copies of your resume

Even if you're applying to all the same positions, not all companies check for the same list of keywords. Consider analysing every job advertisement and identifying its common keywords. Create a copy of your original resume and include the new job posting's keywords, where applicable. While making copies and minor adjustments adds an additional step, it can make for a more competitive application each time.

7. Use the right file format

Although a PDF is good at preserving file data without compromising integrity, it's not always suitable for ATS. There are several types of tracking software today, but not all of them accept PDFs. Thus, before you upload your resume, make sure to check the job posting for a provided list of acceptable file formats. If the job posting doesn't list PDF as a viable option, consider uploading a word document version of the file.

Related: How to Format Your Resume (With Examples)

Frequently asked questions about ATS

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about ATS:

Are there different types of ATS?

There are different brands of ATS today. Each brand comes with its benefits and drawbacks, such as pricing. Some brands come with other integrations, such as a system where users can log into. Others come with unique additional features for better handling of professionals in specific industries.

Related: What Are Applicant Tracking Systems? (Including Tips)

Is an ATS always right?

This is usually a tough question to answer, but there's plenty of room for mistakes with ATS. For instance, if hiring managers have too strict keyword requirements, they may lose many of their candidates. In this case, the hiring manager may not get to see many prime candidates. The same might be true for qualified candidates who don't understand the importance of having an ATS-friendly resume.

Can I over-optimise my resume?

Although optimisation is good, it has its drawbacks. Make sure not to place keywords in odd places just for the ATS. When your resume passes the criteria set within an ATS, a hiring manager reads it themselves afterwards. If your resume makes little sense because of keyword-stuffing, the hiring manager may reject it. Alternatively, if the hiring manager identifies deceptive tactics, they might even blacklist you from their system.

Are applicant tracking systems here to stay?

With job competition on the rise, there's no reason for companies to turn away from ATS. Even medium- or small-sized businesses now see a large number of candidates for new positions. The average hiring manager rarely has enough time to review dozens of resumes, so they resort to ATS. Although not every company uses one, it's important to do your best to adapt your resume for the best chance of getting noticed during a competitive application process.

ATS resume template

Consider customising this template to create your resume for an ATS:

[Your full name]
[Country]
[Contact number]
[Email address]

Summary
[Include details that explain your work experience and why your skills or abilities are a good fit for the role.]

Education
[Name of the university where you graduated]
[Inclusive dates- Month / Year - Month / Year]
[Degree you received]

Work experience
[Name of the company]
[Job title], [Inclusive dates- Month / Year - Month / Year]

  • [Brief description of duties and responsibilities you completed in this position with action verbs]

  • [2nd brief description of responsibilities]

  • [3rd brief description of responsibilities]

[Second company name]
[Job title], [Inclusive dates- Month / Year - Month / Year]
[Inclusive dates- Month / Year - Month / Year]

  • [Brief description of duties and responsibilities you completed in this position with action verbs]

  • [2nd brief description of responsibilities]

  • [3rd brief description of responsibilities]

[Third company name], [Title]
[Job title], [Inclusive dates- Month / Year - Month / Year]

  • [Brief description of duties and responsibilities you completed in this position with action verbs]

  • [2nd brief description of responsibilities]

  • [3rd brief description of responsibilities]

Skills

  • [relevant hard or soft skill 1]

  • [relevant hard or soft skill 2]

  • [relevant hard or soft skill 3]

ATS-friendly resume example

Here's an example of an ATS-friendly resume:

Chan Hock Heng
Blk 333 Lorong Kecil Toa Payoh
Singapore 345678

+65 8255 0123
chan.hockheng@email.com

Summary
A detail-oriented and hardworking web developer with more than 10 years of experience in coding systems such as CSS, Java and HTML. Seeking a position to apply my expertise in web programming and development.

Education
Cemerlang University
August 2018 - May 2021
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Experience
Aman Tech Pte Ltd
Head Web Developer, January 2020 to present

  • Build an average of 20 prototypes a year for testing and implementation

  • Lead a team of five to develop software that resulted in 40,000 downloads within the first week of launching

  • Oversee planning and programming of the company's new software and applications

Aman Tech Pte Ltd
Web Developer, August 2019 to January 2020

  • Identified any bugs or glitches found in the company's system and reported to leadership

  • Updated current systems by applying improvements, bug fixes and any other additions to increase application downloads by 50% in one month

  • Worked with several departments to collect information data and information regarding software systems and applications to determine what we can apply.

SingTech Apps Lab
Junior Web Developer, January 2018 to August 2019

  • Developed applications that featured the product of the company, which increased overall sales by 50% within the first year of launch

  • Assisted head web developer in developing software and application systems that boosted user engagement by 40%

  • Constantly fixed any application or website issues reported by customers or employees

Skills

  • Deadline-oriented

  • Exceeding goals

  • Consultative sales

  • Sandler sales-trained associate

  • New business acquisition

  • Client retention

  • Relationship management

Related: Curriculum Vitae (CV) Format Guide (With Examples and Tips)

The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.

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