ATS-Friendly Resume: What Is It and How to Make One?

You may be wondering what is ATS-Friendly Resume? Well, this term is kind of popular nowadays in the HR and job seeker world.

ATS stands for Application Tracking System. In fact, 90% of Fortune 500 corporations use this resume screening tool during their recruiting processes. And based on Yahoo, 75% of resumes would never get into a real person’s hands.

What’s that mean exactly? Let me explain in a simpler way. So, before your resume is delivered to the recruiters, you need to pass this bot first which is the ATS machine. Otherwise, recruiters will never see your resume.

Such an irony, isn’t it? But that’s the reality now.

Let’s take a look at an example of ATS from BambooHR.

Applicant Tracking System – BambooHR Ireland | A Grouper Technology Division

As you can see, the system gives ratings to each applicant. The rating varies from 0/5 stars to 5/5 stars. You need to have more stars in order to beat other applicants. Now, the question is: How do I get more stars?

You have to comply with the system requirements. Otherwise, ATS machine won’t able to read your resume. Even though you have such a very good content in your resume, if ATS machine can’t read that, you will not pass the bot. Hence, the recruiter will never see your resume.

So, how to make my resume readable by the ATS machine? Let’s breakdown the strategies in order to write your best resume which complies with the ATS. Here goes the list of things we will cover:

  1. Example of ATS-Friendly Resume
  2. ATS-Friendly Resume Format
  3. Keywords to Put on ATS-Friendly Resume
  4. Things You Don’t Want to Include in Your ATS-Friendly Resume
  5. How to Check Your ATS-Friendly Resume Score

ATS-Friendly Resume Example

20 ATS-Friendly Resume Templates - Jobscan Blog
Professional ATS Resume Templates for Experienced Hires and College  Students or Grads, for free [Updated for 2020]

From the two examples above, you can see that ATS loves simplicity. It prefers a resume that is black and white fulfilled with a simple and easy to read font. Stick with us to know further details on how to make an ATS-Friendly resume.

For more free examples of ATS resume, check out 20 ATS-Friendly Resume Templates and Resume Templates for Experienced Hires


Unique Resume Template optimized for ATS

Use a simple font like sans-serif or serif fonts with a size of 11. If you prefer a smaller size, make sure to not use a font size which lower than 10. It is acceptable for you to use a font size of 12 or 14 to write your name or headings.

Sans-serif fonts: Arial, Arial Narrow, Verdana, Calibri, Century Gothic, Gill Sans, Lucinda Sans, Tahoma, Trebuchet.

Serif fonts: Times New Roman, Garamond, Book Antiqua, Bookman, Cambria, Century Schoolbook, Georgia, Palatino Linotype.

To make your CV more readable, you can use txt or rtf format. But if that’s not possible, you can use doc or PDF format for your resume. Never use JPG, JPEG, or other formats.

Make your CV as boring as possible. No, you are not reading that wrong. ATS prefers a boring black-and-white resume that you make in Microsoft Word than the colorful-full-of-design resume you made using Adobe Photoshop or Canva. Keep in mind that ATS machine can’t read files from Canva.

Use simple bullet to list down job descriptions and achievements. Using complicated characters will make the ATS can’t read your resume.

Also read: How to Create an ATS-Friendly Resume Template


Tailor your resume with keywords in the job vacancy requirements. Look out for job-related skills and action verbs in the job requirements.

Job-related skills are the key skills related to the job you are applying for. For example, if the job requirements stated:

  • 5+ years experience in consumer eCommerce marketing & analytics with a focus on achieving brand engagement metrics with positive ROI 
  • Familiarity with SEO best practices including evaluating & using keywords in content planning and execution
  • Experience using social media marketing platforms (Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn
  • Experience with eCommerce analytics platforms such as Google Analytics, Metabase, Qualtrics, etc.

Then, under your skills section in the resume, you can write down those skills: eCommerce Marketing, SEO, Social Media Marketing (Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn), Google Analytics, Metabase, Qualtrics. But keep in mind that you can only list the skills that you have. Here’s a pro tip: Don’t lie.

While action verbs are the verbs that you use to describe your accomplishments in your previous work. Let’s look at the example below of a job description of a job vacancy:

  • Lead data-driven content planning processes to identify thought leadership and other topics impactful to Embark customer audiences
  • Manage monthly/quarterly content schedule for written blog, Facebook Live presentations, and Video Series, ensuring content writers/producers stay on track for deliverable timelines
  • Leverage both outbound and inbound marketing tactics including manual and automated email campaigns, social media, SEO, direct mail, and more
  • Achieve KPIs across a variety of brand engagement metrics, collaborate with lead-gen marketers to support achieving prospect acquisition and customer retention KPIs

You can use words like lead, manage, leverage, achieve, collaborate in your Work Experience section while explaining your accomplishments in your job so then you can start to write the best resume in 2020.

Utilize free online service like Jobscan to optimize your resume so that ATS will find your resume compatible with the job requirements and recommend you to the recruiter.

Also read: How to Write an ATS Resume

Don’t Put These Things in Your ATS-Friendly Resume

By putting these things in your resume will make the ATS machine can’t read your resume. Hence, it will lower your score. So, what are the things that you shouldn’t put in your resume?

  • Photos
  • Graphs, Logos, and Charts
  • Symbols and Emojis
  • Italics and Underlines
  • Tables and Columns
  • Textboxes
  • Quotation Mark
  • Headers and Footers

You might be wondering why can’t I put photos in my resume? So how do I put my photo there? The answer is: Don’t. You don’t need to put photos in your resume. Other than it makes your resume can’t be read by the ATS machine, it can also rise the subjectivity of recruiters. These are examples of resumes that are not ATS-Friendly:

30 Beautiful Resume Designs For Your Inspiration, Vol. 4 - Hongkiat |  Resume design creative, Infographic resume, Resume design

This resume is very colourful and contains a lot of graphics, illustrations, logos, symbols and emojis. The resume also has a skill rating in the “Tools I Use” section. You might want to remove the rating and only list the skills instead.

I’m not lying. This resume is eye-catching. But unfortunately, the bots won’t like it. So, how do you know whether the ATS machine will be able to read your resume or not? Well, you might check the next section below.

Also read: Beat the Robots: How to Get Your Resume Past the System & Into Human Hands

Check your ATS-Friendly Resume Score

There are several free online services to check your resume score in the ATS machine. A good resume has a minimum score of 80. You can try service from Resume Worded or Skill Roads. Let’s take a look at Resume Worded as an example:

Scoring ATS Resume

I uploaded my resume and got 86 as my score which is good since it exceeds the minimum score of 80. Here, Resume Worded tells you what is already excellent and which part of your resume needs to be improved. In my case, I need to improve Style and Brevity in order to have the perfect score.

Resume Worded will also tell you which factors that have not meet the expectations yet. For example, in the Style section, my resume still contains personal pronouns, passive voice, and inconsistencies. If you click on it, Resume Worded will tell you details for you to work on. Keep in mind that some of these are not free.

Also check out: Free Resume Keyword Optimizer and Tracker

To Sum Up

We know that starting to write your resume for scratch needs efforts and time. The trends also change thus we have to keep up to date and comply with the latest trend so that we’re still competitive and not left behind. Writing ATS-Friendly resume may be hard and confusing for us, so here’s a recap of what we’ve been discussing:

  • Keep your resume simple. Black and white, simple 10-14 sized font, no photos, illustrations, logos, complicated characters, etc.
  • Use simple bullet and apply active verbs in describing job descriptions and achievements. Don’t forget to customize the resume with the job requirements
  • Utilize Microsoft Word to make ATS-Friendly resume and save it in .doc or .pdf format

Now you know how to change your resume into the type that is friendly to the bot. Why don’t you start making one?

You can also check how to write the best resume in 2020 and write a cover letter as a complementary document to apply for jobs that higher your chance of getting an interview invitation.

Not sure where to search for jobs? Sign yourself up and start nail your dream job at 9cv9 Jobs and Career Platform.

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Kiko Mei
Kiko Mei
Kiko Mei is a fresh graduate from Bandung Institute of Technology majoring in Marketing. She is now managing digital marketing at 9cv9 especially for content marketing and social media. Find her on Instagram here:

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