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If you’d like to test how well YOUR resume is optimized for ATS, just click here for a free resume review.


As if writing a resume wasn’t complicated enough…


All of a sudden you hear about this scary thing called ATS. But what really is ATS? You’ve probably heard the term before but have only a vague understanding of what it actually is.

ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System(s). They are universally used by most organizations to manage chaotic hiring needs. This article explains what ATSs are and why they exist, how ATSs work, and how to optimize your resume to beat ATS software once and for all.




Trust me, you should NEED to know how ATSs work before you apply for another job online.

Through the rest of this article, you’ll see ATS referred to as ATSs most of the time. We’re doing that because there are MANY different ATSs out there, though they all do very similar things. Here’s a list of some of the different ATSs:


Why do ATSs exist and what do they do?


ATSs are used for various reasons, but the biggest is that they make extensive hiring processes more efficient. Here are some specific reasons ATSs are so widely used:

  1. Decrease recruiting and hr costs
  2. Get more qualified candidates
  3. Save time by avoiding bad resumes

Put your feet in the shoes of hiring managers, recruiters, and employers. Some go through hundreds of resumes every day trying to find the right fit for their organizations. If you were doing the same job, you’d probably want a way to take some of the demand off of your eyes.

That’s where ATS comes in. ATS actually filters your resume by keywords, job titles, and degrees to find the best matches to the criteria the employer creates – the job description. 

Unsurprisingly, this saves organizations hundreds and thousands of hours. And remember, time is money! ATS also allows employers to see more good resumes since they don’t have to spend time reading the bad ones too.

What does this mean for you and other job seekers? If your resume is optimized for ATS, it is more likely to be seen. However, if your resume isn’t optimized for ATS, it will likely never be seen.


How do ATSs work?


We briefly answered this question above. ATSs work by filtering your resume by keywords, job titles, degrees, location, and more. This filtering allows the employer to find the only candidates that match their criteria. Some ATSs automatically filter for employers based on the posted job description while others allow employers to do their own keyword searches.

Essentially, your resume is put into a database that can be searched and filtered. If your resume doesn’t have the keywords the hiring manager is searching for, your resume will be filtered out, not in.

Some ATSs are picky about the way things are formatted. For example, headers, footers, columns, graphics, tables, and other less-than-simple elements are hard for ATSs to understand. When writing a resume that could potentially be read by ATS, keep it simple. 

ATS prefers simple file types. This means docx, doc, and PDF. Docx or doc is the safest filetype to use, but most ATSs are compatible with PDF formats. Text files are good for ATS as well, though the point of beating ATS is to get your resume in front of human eyes, so it’s better to hand in something that looks nice and is easy for a person to read.


Ways to beat ATS


There are some good tools out there to optimize your resume for ATS. One of our favorites at Promoted is Jobscan allows you to compare your resume to any job description you want and analyzes how well what you have matches to what you need to have. We strongly recommend taking a look at their website.

At Promoted, we perform free resume reviews that include a look at your resume’s ATS optimization. By signing up you get a personalized report and get to chat with one of our professional resume writers.


If you’d like to test how well YOUR resume is optimized for ATS, just click here for a free resume review.


Now, if you’re really serious about beating ATS, we recommend signing up for our Full Resume Revision service.


We optimize your resume for ATS, write value-proving content, and design your resume to look appealing to actual humans.


Click here or below to learn more and start the process: