How to Optimize Resume for Application Tracking System (ATS)

Submitting a resume and feeling like it went into a black hole? This might be the case if your application does not make the cut through the Application Tracking System aka. ATS. 

ATS is a software that over 40% of employers use in order to screen, sort, and organize candidates in the entire hiring process. It tosses out unqualified candidates that do not match the criteria and identifies the right candidates that fit the role. How does it do that? It scans your resume looking for keywords as matched to the job description. 

Here are a few ways to write an ATS-friendly resume. 

  1. Keep your ATS plain

Make your resume as plain as possible like excluding icons, fancy fonts, tables, or images. ATS doesn’t read these components very well and sometimes they do not read at all!

  1. Focus on keywords

Read the job description and highlight keywords that are mentioned the most. Prioritize the skill keywords as mentioned in the job description frequently throughout your resume. Be mindful as you do not want to stuff all your resume with only keywords, that won’t look good when a human reads it. 

  1. Avoid jargon and acronyms 

ATS doesn’t pick up industry jargon or acronyms very well. Try spelling out the word entirely. Some jargons are not recognized by different companies and industries so they are not the keywords ATS is searching for. 

  1. Use common position name

It’s all about being recognized by the ATS. The system might be set to search for someone with a specific title in the past. If you had a distinct job title in the past, evaluate and discuss with your boss if it would be ok to change up the title to match the industry standard.  

  1. Test your ATS score

It’s a good idea to test how friendly your resume is and how close it matches the job description you are applying for. Use sites like to get your score!

Need help with job searching in Canada and want to stand out even though you are an international student? Our team of recruiters & hiring managers can help! Check out our Career Launcher Bootcamp which covers how you can optimize your resume for application tracking systems in detail!