Beat the system with a sharp resume

What job applicants must do to get past resume-filtering software

Beat the system with a sharp resume

Make sure your resume is free of spelling errors, include buzz words and uses a familiar font, PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

Not many job seekers know that 72 per cent of resumes are never seen by human eyes. A myriad of employers are now using a recent technology called applicant tracking system (ATS).

To get your resume to the next round, you need to win over this system, which has its own complex rules.

ATS will assign the job seeker a score based on how well he matches the job that the employer is trying to fill. Then the sophisticated machine will rank and sort all the candidates.

Only the applicants with the highest scores are reviewed by a human.

This is why it is important to format your resume to be more data-extraction friendly.

The program can analyse a document and extract elements of what the writer means to say.

A curriculum vitae's elements usually consists of basic information - the applicant's skills, experience and education.

Unfortunately, the way job seekers write their resume is infinitely varied, and that will confuse the system.

ATS has to capture all these different ways of writing through complex rules and statistical algorithms.

Do you want your abilities to be recognised by the system?

Here are several tricks on how to format a data extraction- friendly resume:


As much as you want your resume to be of eye-candy quality, the ATS will not be able to read or understand an image.

So forget the images and graphics. Be wordy instead.


Use only standard fonts, such as arial, tahoma and trebuchet.

Also, use standard characters such as bullets. Other characters, such as arrows, can cause problems for the ATS.

And avoid fancy borders and shading. Make sure your resume is easy to read.


Read the job description carefully to determine the skills required by the employer.

Then, put the buzzwords the employer is using into your resume.

Spell out your skills and include industry-specific abbreviations or acronyms that the employer may also search for when finding candidates with the right experience.

The ATS will be looking for these keywords. A resume that is filled with the keywords will obviously get a better score.

If you have other skills or irrelevant information that aren't required, consider leaving them out. Only mention the past positions and skills that are relevant.


Any misspelt words will be ignored by the ATS. It is important to re-read your resume and spell check.

Even better, ask for help from a friend to run through your resume.


Don't forget to include your basic information at the top of your resume. The phone number and e-mail address are significant for further communications. The ATS is able to send you an e-mail with additional instructions after you've applied for the position.


You will read different job descriptions from different companies. It means their ATS has different keywords and phrases

Be thoughtful for each resume. You must tailor your skills and experience according to the employer's requirements.


Article contributed by TBC HR Consulting (


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