Beating The Resume Screening Bots

Ways to get noticed, not nixed, by the latest recruiting AI.

Beating The Resume Screening Bots

Learn how to pass the ATS robot test.


Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are a recruiter's best friend. ATS robots pre-screen resumes to separate the qualified candidates from the unqualified ones. More employers than ever scan your application electronically. Less so at small companies, but you never know who does and doesn’t.

Which is why you’ve always got to satisfy AI. Since algorithms might be parsing your words almost instantly, feed ‘em the good stuff. Otherwise, you could stay invisible to hiring managers and recruiters.

To get screened in rather than blocked out, follow these essential tips.

Keywords are the key

Scanners make lousy BFF’s. They heartlessly search for specific terms that relate to the advertised job. How to know what they’re looking for? Read the ad!

A decently written one – not the crappy kind with three sentences of info and no company name – is clue central. In fact, if keywords were the only factor, you could probably copy and paste the ad into a document labelled “Resume.” It’d sure match the bots’ targets.

When to rephrase 

When describing your experience and achievements, pure plagiarism’s for chumps. Do it discreetly. Read the role’s duties and responsibilities. It might say “This position will provide marketing support to the business development team.” 

Try to reword a bit and put it in the right section. In a professional summary, it could read “Creative marketing support specialist who works great with sales teams.”

As an accomplishment in your current or previous job, you might put “Provided timely marketing support to the business development team, resulting in reduced delays.” 

When to copy exactly

Directly stealing from the ad is alright for certain resume sections. Highlights or Credentials, for instance. 

A job ad might ask for a specific post-secondary degree, license, or software skill. Make sure to include whichever one(s) you’ve got just as they appear in the ad so the ATS robots can clear you.

Toss in some related words too

Keyword variations count, as well. If the ad states, MS Office is a must, put it in. Then add Word, Access, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook (only if you use them, of course). For logistics, say analysis, integration and supply chain.

No thanks, thesaurus

Some resumes read like there’s an arms race for the hardest hitting words. You’re an exceptionally innovative and self-propelled, as well as a disruptor. Plus you’re the fastest, most bigly, first and foremost.

Sweet. But unless those descriptors pertain to the job they won’t even register. Pick up on the ad’s vibe. Coders have to be disciplined, exact, syntax sensitive. Finance folk are numbers oriented, spreadsheet experts and fiscal (not physical).

Prove your claims

Boasting’s still strongly encouraged. Brag about your achievements but provide hard evidence when you can. Quantify results in several ways and mention awards, prizes or accolades received for outstanding performance. Algorithms go gaga for proof of qualifications, experience, skills and credentials that match the job. Skimp on most anything else. While you have to get past the ATS robots, humans will eventually be looking at your resume, so make sure you impress them too.