How to save weeks worth of time building an ATS-friendly resume?

published on 08 August 2022
ATS friendly resume-0knul

Have you been applying to a lot of jobs and have not heard back? This could be because your resume may not be ATS-friendly.

What is an ATS?

ATS or Applicant Tracking System is a software that most companies use to allow candidates to apply for various positions, filter them, and move the candidates through the various interview steps.

It is an essential tool that helps most recruiters, HRs, and the hiring team to manage the lifecycle of a candidate.

Why is it essential to write an ATS-friendly resume?

If you have a lot of years of experience and recruiters are hunting you down, it really won't matter that much. However, if you are just starting out or are having a lot of trouble getting interviews, this will help you move forward.

Imagine this, the recruiter or hiring manager opens up a job position for a new grad software engineer. Most likely, within the first day, that position would get over 1000 applications. And within the first week, that number would have grown 10X. It is almost impossible for anyone to go through so many resumes to find the perfect fit. And that is why people look for certain keywords in the resume to filter out the candidates that may be a better fit for the job. Now, this might not be a practice in every company but it is important to not take chances as the fix for this is quite simple. 

 How to write an ATS-friendly resume?

1. Format:

ATS-Friendly resume format
ATS-Friendly resume format

While modern ATSs are quite advanced, majority of the companies use legacy software that do not understand complex formatting. It is best to avoid unnecessary elements within your resume to ensure that your resume can be read by all the softwares.

Best practices:

  • Use a simple documents tool to write a single column resume
  • Add meaningful section headings like Experience, Education, Skills etc.
  • Write your experience in reverse chronological order
  • Limit your resume to a single page if you have less than 10 years of experience
  • Save your resume in a .docx or PDF format


  • Unless required or mandated by the company, do not include charts or infographics.
  • Some ATSs can’t process images and it would be good to avoid it
  • Try not to include columns or tables in your resume.

2. Keywords:

Like we mentioned above, there is a good probability that your resume could be filtered using keywords and hence it is important to make sure you have added all the necessary keywords that pertain to your experience. 

You could do this manually by comparing your resume to each job description and picking out keywords you are missing. The easier way to do that would be to use a free keyword tool like ResumePuppy to make this process quicker. 

Make sure to research each job and tell your best story to stand out. Also, it is important to note that you should not be adding keywords that do not apply to you. Getting through the ATS will help you land a interview, however, you will still need to pass the interviews. 

4. Upskill:

Sometimes a job could require you to have a certain skill that you do not possess. One way to add this skill to your resume is by taking up a small course on it. Now, this is a slightly higher effort task, however, the outcomes are two-fold. Firstly, you will gain a new skill that can be applied to your new job, and secondly, you will be able to enhance your resume to stand out among the sea of applicants. 

Make sure to build the projects from the MOOC courses and publish them. While it is great to have theoretical knowledge, getting your hands dirty will help you understand the concepts really well. This will not only help you get past the ATS but you will also be able to explain it in detail during your interviews.

5. Document Type:

Export your resumes using docx or pdf file formats. In our research we read about some older ATSs not supporting PDFs but we haven’t experienced it ourselves. 

Be careful when you are using a 3rd party tool to create your resume. We have seen some of the visual tools create a document that cannot be parsed by some ATSs. 

ResumePuppy uses a simple LaTeX format to emphasize on the content and ensure that the resume is ATS friendly. 

6. Test:

Make sure that your resume is parsable. The easiest way to do it is to go to indeed and upload your resume. If most of your fields get identified, there is a good chance that the rest of the tools will be able to read your resume. 

Also, test out your resume by modifying the content. If a version of your resume starts getting you calls, identify what changed and keep improving it. 

Resume making is as much of an art as it is a science. If you are someone early in your career and are starting to write a resume, make sure to read our post on resume formats for freshers. 

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