By Lauren Beam (’07), Associate Director, Mentoring and Alumni Personal & Career Development, Wake Forest University

You’ve probably heard of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), particularly if you’ve recently conducted a job search or are in the midst of one. According to research by Jobscan, over 98.9% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS for sorting resumes and applications in the hiring process. If you’re applying to a large company, through an online portal of any kind, or even submitting your resume through LinkedIn, your resume is going into an ATS.

So what does this mean for job seekers?

Your resume matters! The format, the content, the keywords used – it all matters for how your resume is viewed through an ATS in the application process.

Here are some basic resume tips on designing a resume for an ATS:

1. Use simple formatting!

  • Avoid tables, headers and footers, fancy fonts, colors, columns, boxes.
  • Use a simple, readable font (examples: Times New Roman, Arial, Avenir, Helvetica).
  • Avoid using abbreviations – spell out full words for dates (October 2022), degrees (Bachelor of Arts), educational institutions (Wake Forest University), company names, certifications (Licensed Clinical Social Worker).
  • List out your Title, Company, Location, and Date in one clear line of text (and nix the left and right alignment formatting).
  • Keep your document to one page (if possible and applicable; this may not be CVs in academia or health/science-related fields).
  • Do not put your photo on your resume (save this for your LinkedIn profile).
  • Use simple, common section headers like Summary, Work Experience, Education, Skills, Interests.

2. Tailor and streamline your content!

  • Read the job description and include as many keywords and skills as possible.
  • Check for and avoid typos.
  • Avoid personal pronouns – do not use I, me, they, we, she, he, us, etc.
  • Use a professional email address.
  • Quantify your bullet points whenever possible – show results with facts and figures.
  • Use a resume scanner tool like Cultivated Culture’s to see how your tailored resume matches up to the job for which you’re applying.

3. Include a link to your comprehensive LinkedIn profile.

  • Remove your current location from the header of your resume (most jobs are no longer location-bound anyways) and replace it with a link to your LinkedIn profile.
  • Make sure that your resume and LinkedIn content match-up.
  • Use LinkedIn’s Summary section, Skills, Recommendations, and other features to elaborate on your experiences beyond what’s on your resume.

While these tips will certainly help get your resume noticed in an ATS, the best way to get your foot in the door at an organization is through who you know! Networking is key to learning about possible job openings and landing that first round interview. Combine these tips above with growing your professional network as you dive into your job search!