The Art Behind Getting Past the Scanning System of Hiring Manager

MyCareer360 Applicant Tracking System

How does a resume checker work?

Advances in technology and digital communications have dramatically changed the way we apply for jobs. Forget photocopying a single resume and sending it out through snail mail. Today a candidate can share their resume to an employer by simply uploading it to the employer’s website. This has streamlined the process for candidates immensely, making it much easier (and cheaper!) to apply for a multitude of positions.

Great, right? Unfortunately, this digital revolution caused a major problem for HR departments. Instead of receiving resumes from dozens of qualified applicants, employers now have to sift through an average of 118 of resumes per opening. Plus, thanks to the simplicity of applying for jobs online, many job seekers apply for positions they aren’t necessarily qualified to fill.

In order to lighten the load, employers needed a way to screen and catalogue potential candidates into a database and keep track of the resumes coming in while still complying with labor laws. Thus, the birth of applicant tracking systems (ATS), software that helps companies streamline their hiring process and review applications more quickly.

Not only do these systems organize and sort applications, but they can also be programmed to screen candidates based on content. There are two schools of thought on ATS; some consider ATS a miraculous and essential solution to finding highly qualified candidates; , while others argue that these systems are just black holes driven by cold and impersonal keywords. 

There are hundreds of ATS software packages readily available to employers of all types and sizes. From comprehensive suites like JobDiva and iCIMS Recruit to budget-friendly systems such as BrightMove and HiringThing, most HR departments choose to invest in an ATS.

Unfortunately for job seekers, these systems eliminate an average of 75% of applicants for each opening. That means most resumes are never even seen by human eyes.

How can you make sure your skills and achievements are recognized by ATS algorithms?

When it comes to applicant tracking systems, aesthetics take a backseat to functionality. There are two basic aspects of ATS optimization: content and format.

Here are some tips to help your resume rise to the top of the ATS pool:


When it comes to online job applications, it doesn’t matter if you’re the next Mark Twain. A clever turn of phrase may catch a hiring manager’s attention, but no one will ever see it if your resume doesn’t pass the ATS. Save the eloquence for your cover letter and keep your resume simple.

  1. Stick to traditional resume headings like Career Summary, Experience, Education, and Skills.
  2. Use easily recognizable job titles. Sure, you may be called a Happiness Engineer at your current company, but ATS algorithms won’t automatically equate that with the more common Customer Service Representative. Note: If you’re worried about misrepresenting your work, use your company issued job title in the description of your duties and accomplishments.
  3. Customize your resume for each job application you complete so that it’s tailored for each position. Refer to the published job description and change the job title, featured skills, and keywords on your resume.

Note: This is not license to embellish the truth! It just means that you should prioritize your skills and accomplishments based on their relevance to each job posting. For example, you may want to specifically describe your software proficiencies for a technical position, but briefly list your overall office skills for a generalist position.

Extra tip: You can save time by using MyCareer360’s resume builder to duplicate, edit, and save multiple versions of your resume.


Although your resume may look beautiful, applicant tracking systems can’t interpret color-coded timelines and gorgeous graphics. Format your resume so the ATS can read every word.

  1. Avoid using special objects such as images, text boxes and graphics.
  2. Keep all of your text in the body of the page, including your name and contact information. Most ATS can’t read headers and footers.
  3. Select a clean, basic font such as Arial or Times New Roman. Also, keep your text between 10 and 12 point size and make sure it’s all one color: preferably black.
  4. Check the list of acceptable file types, and save your document accordingly. The most commonly accepted formats are Word (.doc or .docx) and Adobe (.pdf).

If following these rules seems too time-consuming, there’s a pretty simple fix. If hiring managers can screen out applicants, you can screen out job postings. Sites like Indeed and Monster offer advanced search options so that job seekers can filter out inappropriate or undesirable postings.

The ultimate goal of your ATS formatted resume is to actually intrigue the interest of a real person (HR), which will potentially lead to an interview. Using the tips above should help you achieve this goal. Now when the recruiter sits down and flips on the computer, they’re more likely to see that the ATS has recognized the keywords and phrases on your resume and ranked it high on the list for review.

When it comes to job hunting in the digital age, it’s all about quality over quantity. Now, apply these strategies and don’t forget to write a killer cover letter!All the best for your next job interview!