How Do I Know If My Resume Will Pass The ATS

As Seen In

logo of wsj
logo of wsj
logo of business-insider
logo of business-insider
logo of cnn
logo of cnn
logo of fatherly
logo of fatherly
logo of nbc
logo of nbc

Table Of Contents

Companies use the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to catalog resumes and make more educated decisions on whether or not certain criteria is met. Most resumes (especially at bigger companies) won’t even get seen by human eyes if the document:

  • Isn’t saved in the proper format
  • Lacks keywords associated with the position’s required skills and experience
  • Has contact information garbled in the header
  • Contains graphics or charts, which often get misread

It is these best practices that need to continually be updated to match the job you are applying to.

If you need extra help with your resume, we recommend working with a resume writing service. Resume writing services can help you make sure that your resume will pass the ATS.

How To Make Sure Your Resume is ATS Friendly

Here are our top tips for making sure your resume is ATS friendly.

Optimize Keywords Based On The Job Description

The best way to get your resume ATS approved is by making sure your skills and experience match up with what is posted on the job description. This means that you should adjust your resume every time you apply to a different job as the requirements will undoubtedly be different.

You can review various job descriptions by checking out the best job posting sites.

Stick To A Chronological Or Hybrid Format

Many people make the mistake of stuffing their resume with colors, graphics, or charts. While these may look aesthetically pleasing to the human eye, they don’t do anything for software that was made to pull and organize information so it can be reviewed quickly by a hiring manager. This is why it’s best (and safest) to stick with a chronological resume or hybrid format.

Save The Correct File Type

This is probably the easiest mistake to avoid, yet again and again, people make the mistake of submitting the wrong file type. Save and submit whatever file is specified on the company website. If nothing is specified, either docx or PDF is your best bet.

Testing Your Resume With Free ATS Scans

There are a number of different resume writing services that offer a free ATS scan which we will go over below. But before you even do that, you can try saving your resume as a plain text file and then opening it to make sure none of your information discarded. If something, like a text box, for example, was missed in the plain text document, then the ATS will probably skip over it, as well. Here are some of our favorite companies that offer free ATS scans.


Even if you don’t know what recruiters are looking for, you can relax because the experts at TopResume do. And they know the best way to present yourself to ensure maximum opportunities. Once you upload your resume for review, you can expect feedback within two business days. The review provides:

  • A confidential, personalized, and expert evaluation
  • Objective feedback on layout, language, and how well you are communicating your skills and expertise
  • Personalized recommendations on how to make your resume stronger

TopResume offers an in-depth look at your resume and breaks it down into six sections:

  • Professional Overview
  • File Type & Size
  • Content & Formatting
  • Work History
  • Expertise & Skills
  • Final Score

This is an example of the score and information you will receive with a free resume review.

Join The Break Community

This is an example of the score and information you will receive with a free resume review.

Each section consists of different charts or graphs that explain what you’re doing right, or what you’re doing wrong. The final score is followed by a recommendation of what you could be doing to improve your resume in order to get the job search progress that you desire.

Get your free resume review with TopResume today!

get started with topresume


Did you know that, on average, over 75 percent of resumes are rejected by an ATS and never seen by employers! To help avoid this, ZipJob offers you the option to get some no-charge feedback on your current resume. Their professional writers understand the language, process, and the latest resume trends that land interviews. So you’ll have a clear picture of whether or not your resume is optimized to perform well in the scans and get past all the filters. And ultimately impress employers. Your confidential review will be completed within 48 hours and includes:

  • Detailed input on how you are presenting your skills and experience
  • Design and formatting critique so you know how effectively your resume uses components like bullets, headers, and font sizes, among others
  • An ATS scanning test that uses the same technology as more than 90 percent of employers

Take advantage of this free resume review with ZipJob now!

get started with zipjob


By now, we’re sure you’ve gathered that generic resumes are a dime a dozen and not very likely to do well in an applicant tracking system. Jobscan is a tool that gives you an instant analysis of how well your resume is tailored to a particular job and how it can be even better optimized to make you a top candidate for that job.


With Jobscan, you receive a match rate score based on how well your resume jives with the job description you have submitted. An 80 percent match rate is recommended and is based on these four priorities:

  1. Hard skills
  2. Education level (if an advanced degree is included in the job description)
  3. Job title
  4. Soft skills
  5. Keyword context

Your match report will focus on the following:

ATS Tips and Findings

These are what’s most important to an ATS and include an overview of your missing skills and keywords, and whether you have a matching job title and degree. With an optional ATS Tip feature, you can add the company name and web address to receive bonus tips for the specific ATS you’re applying through. This could be helpful since each ATS views and interprets resumes differently.

Recruiter Findings

Jobscan also checks for things that the humans (recruiters) behind the ATS are looking for and offers variants for different users.

Measurable Results

Anyone can list job duties, but hiring managers want to see an applicant’s real, quantifiable contributions. Vague bullet points are not the same as compelling accomplishments.

Negative Keywords

Jobscan picks out negative keywords in your resume. These are the cliches and overused words and phrases that need to be avoided, like “team player.” While this is an important skill, it’s used in too many resumes and is at the point of being a considered negative keyword.

Resume Word Count

An ATS often uses something called signal-to-noise-ratio. This means that pertinent information is compared to irrelevant information. Bottom line: aim for a one-page resume if you have ten or fewer years of work experience. If you pad your resume with fluff, a hiring manager might miss important information. Using less text can actually help increase its relevance.

Job Recommendations

Jobscan has one additional component that can prove to be very helpful in your job search - Job Recommendations. At the bottom of your resume match report, this feature searches Indeed or ZipRecruiter to suggest other jobs based on the top skills and keywords found in your resume and the job description you scanned against. At the end of the day, this could really broaden your job search horizons.

Get started with a free Jobscan resume review today!

get started with jobscan

Avoid the “Resume Black Hole” with a Free Resume Review

There’s no doubt that technology has helped make jobs more accessible. But on the other side of the coin, it has also made the job search and resume writing process more nuanced. To have job search success today, you need a resume that, in many cases, appeals to resume scanning software, as well as real-life hiring managers.

If you don’t understand what each is looking for, there’s a strong chance your resume will end up lost in the “resume black hole” and your search for that perfect job will be dead in the water. Putting your resume through a free review can tell you whether your resume hits the mark, or where it misses. It will let you know if you’ll make it through an ATS, how valuable you are in the eyes of recruiters, and what your interview chances are. In short, this is a great first step to getting the job you want.

Making sure your resume is ATS ready is important in today’s job-seeking world. There are so many correctable things that can go wrong upon your submission, that you’d be selling yourself short if you didn’t at least give one of the free ATS tests a try. The test may prompt you to make a few changes, or even seek out the professional help offered by the above companies. Either way, you now know what you need to do to make sure your resume passes the ATS and gets into the hands of a hiring manager.

If you need extra help, we recommend working with an expert with a resume writing service.