The easiest way to ensure your résumé will be accepted by an ATS is to submit a résumé that is both ATS-friendly and human-reader ready. The two are not mutually exclusive; however, ATS-friendly résumés are formatted much more simply, while human-reader résumés may contain graphic elements that make the document easier to read and more attractive to the reader.
Because the ultimate goal is to have the résumé reviewed by a human, even an ATS-friendly résumé needs to be readable — and attractive — to human eyes. If you are given the choice to copy-and-paste the résumé or upload a file, choose the upload option. This will ensure the human-read résumé retains the formatting you originally intended.
Some applicant tracking systems can manage graphics (or simply ignore them), but since many systems can’t handle graphics of any type, it is best to omit them if you suspect an applicant tracking system may be used to handle the application.
One way to ensure a match with a posted job is to “mirror” the job posting in the résumé submitted online. Some ATS experts once recommended copying-and-pasting the targeted job posting at the end of the résumé, listing it as a job. However, this technique is no longer recommended. A résumé that matches too closely (that is, a 95% or higher match) may actually be flagged by the ATS. Instead, work to incorporate the job posting information into the résumé naturally.
Even if hiring managers aren’t using a formal applicant tracking system, they often file documents on their hard drive. Use your name and a keyword or two in the file name (i.e., JohnJonesSalesManager.doc) instead of the generic “Resume.doc.”
Hiring managers may use Windows Search or Spotlight (on a Macintosh) to help find a document on their hard drive. You can include search terms in the Keyword field in Microsoft Word. Under the “File” menu, choose “Summary Info” and put the information in the keyword file. Separate the keywords and terms with semicolons.