5 Tips to Get Past Resume-Reading Robots

June 17, 2020

It is a startling statistic: 75%  of job applications don’t even make it to a human reviewer.

Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) is used by many companies to screen resumes. This software decides if your resume meets pre-defined criteria. If it does, then the software will pass it along to an HR rep. If not, well, better luck next time. If you want your resume to get to an actual human, you must get past these resume-reading robots first!

Give yourself a shot at that dream job with these 5 tips to get past resume-reading robots.

1. Use the right key words

ATS is designed to make it easier for a hiring manager to filter through hundreds, or even thousands, of resumes. One way to make sure you stay in the candidate pool is by using specific keywords from the job description. Include the exact wording form the posting when talking about your education, experience and skills. Just make sure you also include specific examples from your own experience to back up what you’re talking about.

2. Avoid Fancy Formatting

Although they may make your resume visually stand out, ATS will not be able to read graphs, tables, charts, graphics, or fun fonts. It will reject your resume instead. Unless you know its going directly to a human, avoid creative, infographic-style resumes.

3. Keep it professional

Always use a professional resume format. In other words, keep it simple and consistent. Most resumes follow the chronological resume format, which starts with:
1. Name and Contact information (make sure this information is not formatted in a table or graphic)
2. Summary (your 30 second elevator pitch)
3. Work/volunteer experience
4. Education
5. Certification or Training

4. Save and send as a Word Doc

If you’re going to create your resume in anything other than Microsoft Word, it may save in a file format that ATS will filter out. To avoid this, always save and send your resume as a Microsoft Word document (.docx), which is guaranteed to be readable (so long as it’s not filled with graphics).
Some employers may ask you to submit your resume as a PDF. If so, follow their instructions. PDFs can also be read by ATS.

5. Update previous job titles to reflect requirements

ATS will scan for required job experience in job titles. You may have the exact experience required, but if your title is not what ATS is looking for, it will disqualify you. Instead, you can modify job titles slightly to better reflect the job posting, while always truthfully describing the work you did.

Did you find any of these tips helpful? Let us know by sending us an email to If you haven’t already, check out our resume and cover letter templates – which are ATS friendly!

If you’re aged 15-30, you can also register as a job seeker on our website and check out our latest forest and conservation and parks jobs across Canada.


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