See where your ATS knowledge lies.

Applicant tracking systems, or ATSs, are increasingly used by companies to store, scan, and rank applicants' resumes before getting them into the hands of recruiters and hiring managers. While these software platforms were popular with large companies at first, they have become a common recruiting tool for employers of all sizes. ATS software is designed with the goal of eliminating the least qualified candidates from the applicant pool; however, the software is also known to pass over qualified candidates during its initial scan.

How does this happen?

Simple. Even qualified applicants can find their application knocked out of the running and floating around in the infamous resume black hole if they didn't write their resume with the ATS in mind.

Do you know if your resume can beat the bots and make it into the hands of an actual human recruiter or hiring manager? Take our free career quiz to find out if your resume is ATS friendly!

Career Quiz: Is your resume ATS friendly?

1. Let's start off with the basics. What does ATS stand for?

  • Automated Tracking System
  • Automatic Transcribing Source
  • Applicant Tracking System

Answer: Applicant Tracking System

Applicant tracking systems — or ATS, for short — are used during the recruiting process to store, scan, and rank job applications for a company. While it's used to eliminate the least qualified candidates, even a qualified candidate can find his or her job application lost in the infamous resume black hole if it isn't written with the ATS in mind.

2. When submitting your resume for an online application, what's the best file type to use? 

  • PDF
  • Word document
  • .jpg or .png file
  • Other

Answer: Word document

When applying for a job through an ATS, submit your resume as a Microsoft Word file — not a  PDF file. Some ATS softwares can't convert PDF files, which means they won't be able to read the information on your resume, viewing it as “unusable” and then discarding it.You can learn more about the best file type for your resume here. 

3. Which of the following elements are included in your resume?

  • Tables and/or charts
  • Custom fonts
  • Graphics and/or images
  • None of the above

Answer: None of the above

Don't use graphics, tables, or custom fonts in your resume. While these may look nice to the human eye, they become a garbled mess, or get completely left out of your application, after passing through the applicant tracking system. 

4. If you used a Word document to create your resume, what information did you add to the Header section? 

  • My name and/or contact information
  • Information other than my name or contact information
  • Nothing - I didn't use the header section 
  • I didn't create my resume using Word

Answer: Nothing — I didn't use the header section

Don't put information, such as your contact details, into the header or footer of your resume document. Many applicant tracking systems can't read the information in headers and will miss the important information you put there.

5. Which of the following best describes your resume's format design?

  • Clean and simple
  • Elaborate and fancy

  • Colorful and image-heavy

Answer: Clean and simple

When it comes to beating the bots, a simple resume is a successful resume. Applicant tracking systems have trouble reading embedded tables, symbols, charts, images, and other fancy design elements and will skip over the information that you put in the graphics. 

6. Does your resume contain a professional summary or skills section that has been optimized with relevant keywords?

  • Yes
  • No

  • I'm not sure

Answer: Yes

When you submit your resume through an ATS, your application gets stored in its database, making it easy for recruiters to search for applicants whose resumes contain keywords related to their job opening. It's incredibly important that you include the right keywords for the job you're applying to throughout your resume if you want your application to show up during a recruiter's search. Learn how to tailor your resume to job descriptions here. 

7. When you find a job that interests you, which best describes what you do next?

  • I upload my resume and submit my application
  • I create a cover letter and submit it with my resume
  • I edit my resume based on the requirements in the job description

Answer: I edit my resume based on the requirements in the job description

To improve your chances of beating the bots, use the job listing to help you make small tweaks to the language in your resume, but don't overhaul. Take note of the job description and what it says, and utilize the language appropriately in your resume.

Are you ready to pass the ATS?

Depending on your results, you are either pretty secure in your chances against the software — or you need to tweak your resume. To learn more about how to tailor your resume to the make it past the ATS, check out TopResume's #OfficeHours Live Chat video recording here.

Not sure if your resume can beat the bots? Learn more about the applicant tracking systems (ATS) in our free infographic today!

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