Expert Advise on How to Write an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Friendly Resume

Here are 5 steps you need to beat the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and get your resume through to the employer.
Reviewed by:
May 23, 2024
0 min read time
Nawal Malik

Have you spent hours working on and refining your resume – only to never hear back? Have you spent hours in classes creating an attractive resume - and still not gotten an interview? 

The frustration is valid and very real! 😣

The real question to be asked is: is your resume readable by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)? You could design a killer resume, for the ATS to receive and reject it immediately! It would never reach the hiring manager, who then remains oblivious to your potential. 

Read through the 5 ways by which you can design a totally ATS beatable and readable resume. Say goodbye to intimidating software and hello to your dream job! 👨‍🚀

What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)? 

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software application that helps organizations manage the hiring process. It can be used to collect, store, and track applicant data, as well as automate tasks such as job posting, applicant screening, and interview scheduling.

What is Application tracking System (ATS) used for?

Organizations use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to manage their recruitment processes. It automates many levels of the hiring procedure, including but not limited to job postings, resume screenings, and interview schedules. 

If you have ever directly uploaded your resume on a company website, chances are it was received and reviewed by the ATS. Based on certain keywords, it extracts relevant data such as your skills, work experience, and education. 

Then, it matches the job qualifications to see whether you’d be a good match! If you want to avoid a resume black hole, you first must ensure it’s ATS optimized and readable. 


How to create an ATS Friendly Resume?

1. Choose the Right File Type: PDF 📁

Choosing the right file type is essential in getting your resume ATS recognized. Befriend your PDF resume and use it as your go-to! 

A PDF File type is universal. It is commonly accepted by the vast majority of ATS, bringing security and reliability to the table. Not only that, but PDFs get your resume noticed by recruiters! Hence, a PDF resume guarantees human acknowledgment to a high degree.

Furthermore, a PDF file maintains the layout and formatting of your resume. If you have used tables or columns, a PDF will lock it all in. Thus, it prevents your resume from becoming undecipherable by the ATS due to formatting errors. 

It maximizes compatibility, as non-PDF files might be automatically rejected. Additionally, you can apply optimization techniques to increase your chances of beating the ATS. Use job-relevant keywords as PDFs are searchable. Therefore, the ATS and recruiter can easily search your resume for the appropriate skills and experience. 

2. Apply Keyword Optimization 🗝️

Keyword optimization is the most foolproof way to beat the ATS. Begin by using keywords relevant to the job description and responsibilities. Plant them evenly throughout your resume, focusing on the skills, accomplishments, and experience sections. The combination resume is best for incorporating keywords in this manner!

Here’s a tip! Utilize the keywords and phrases in the job description, in your resume. Tailor your resume specifically to the position using industry-specific jargon. It shows a clear understanding of the job, which shows dedication and passion for your field. 

For example, if you are applying for the role of product manager, make sure to read up on a product manager job description before diving into creating a PM resume!  

3. Use an ATS-Friendly Resume Template 📃

Simplicity and clarity: these are the two vital elements needed in an ATS-friendly resume template. It should be text-based, with clear headings. Whether you’re using a combination, chronological, or functional resume, the template should have defined and consistent sections. These should be labeled ‘Education’, ‘Work Experience’, ‘Skills’, and optionally, ‘Achievements’. 

The headings must be in larger font size, making it easier for the ATS to scan and compartmentalize the information. Ensure that the formatting is consistent, with the same font type and size for all text. This applies to spacing and margins as well to increase your resume readability. 

Use bullet points to break up your information, making your resume look more organized and neater. If the applied-for job is of an objective, scientific, or orderly nature – like that of a data analyst – your resume should mimic that. All these factors contribute to an ATS-friendly resume template, which makes chances to beat the ATS very high. 

4. Avoid Graphics, Charts, and Pictures ❌

The ATS can only read text-based documents. This is why it becomes even more necessary to avoid the use of graphics, charts, and pictures. They might look aesthetically pleasing but they hinder the ATS readability of your resume.. 

Visuals like tables, charts, or images can make it difficult for the ATS to register the information on your resume. The software may misunderstand or inaccurately interrupt the resume. Worst case scenario – it may not register the graphics at all, discarding your resume altogether. 

If you’re applying for an artistic position, like a graphic designer may seem tempting to reflect your creativity in your resume. There are ways to showcase your artistry using text. It’s important not to display any key information through visuals. If you do, mention the same knowledge in the text of your resume. 

5. Select an ATS-Friendly Font 🤝

ATS software employs Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to scan and comprehend the text in a resume. The photo to text conversion by OCR technology extracts the text from the image. You need to convert the font to ATS-compatible. However, this technology accepts specific text fonts; therefore, it is crucial to use a font that is readable by the ATS. In this case, those fonts are Times New Roman and Arial. 

You will find these fonts being used in academic and business settings. They are simple to read, with distinct lines that OCR technology easily registers. However, some ATS software also recognizes Helvetica, Calibri, and Cambria.

Additionally, the font size must be 10 to 12 points. You can bold or italicize specific text to highlight keywords or important information. This ensures your resume is ATS-beatable and detectable by OCR technology. You can always double check your resume score and ensure your resume will beat the ATS. 


Skip the devastation of designing a beautiful resume to never get an interview call. Optimize your resume to be ATS-friendly to beat the system and accelerate your career today! 🚀

If you're looking to become the most eligible candidate in any room with a stellar portfolio that is impossible to reject! Complete portfolio projects and showcase your expertise in any subject and fool-proof your application.

Build Your Work Portfolio via Qureos Projects

If you’d like to learn more about all the buzz at Qureos, contact us at or check out our socials!

Searching for a job?
Join 350,000 candidates on Qureos.