1. Career Advice
  2. Resume & CV's
  3. Create an optimized ATS resume with our tips and templates!
Create an optimized ATS resume with our tips and templates!

Create an optimized ATS resume with our tips and templates!

  • Does having an ATS-compliant resume matter?
  • How do I pass my resume through ATS?
  • 1. Use an ATS-friendly resume template
  • 2. Know your keywords
  • 3. Be a star, not a drone
  • 2 Templates and examples of an ATS-approved resume 
  • Key takeaways

With so many companies using an Automated Tracking System (ATS) to sort through resumes, it’s easy to get overlooked. But if you tailor your resume so that it’s optimized for the ATS, you’ll pass through the ATS with flying colors.

Gone are the days when recruiters slogged through mountains of resumes, looking for the right applicants. Now, most companies utilize an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to screen out less-than-qualified resumes. But if your resume isn’t optimized, no matter how qualified you are, you might slip through the cracks. Take the time to create an ATS-optimized resume so you can beat the Applicant Tracking System and get your resume in front of the right people.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Does having an ATS-compliant resume matter?

  • How do I pass my resume through ATS?

  • What is a good ATS resume score?

  • How do I make an ATS-approved resume? With templates and examples

Does having an ATS-compliant resume matter?

ATS uses keywords that are inputted by the user, then scans each resume, looking for those keywords, and assigns a score. This is why it's crucial to tailor each resume for the job you're applying for.For this reason, your resume needs to have a simple but effective format, contain the right keywords from the job description, and emphasize the correct job requirements and important details in your job history.

The global market report shows that over 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies utilize ATS for their middle and high level positions, and open positions may receive hundreds—even thousands—of applicants. So, if you’re not optimizing your resume to make it through the ATS, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Even if you’re qualified, your resume might get overlooked if the system is not flagging it. 

Statistical Insight

Although it's widely used, the ATS isn't fail-proof. A recent survey by Harvard Business Review showed that 88 percent of employers who use ATS agreed that "qualified high-skills candidates are vetted out of the process because they do not match the exact criteria established by the job description” and that percentage is even higher for middle-skilled workers. For this reason, it’s important to do the best you can to optimize your resume so that you’re not overlooked.

Expert Tip

What is a good ATS resume score?

Some people think that an ATS scores a resume like a teacher: A, B, C, D, or F. However, that’s not the case. An ATS isn’t designed to tell if a resume is good or bad; it scans the resume to see if the applicant is a right fit for the specific job being advertised. It combs your resume to identify your years of experience, degrees, keywords, management experience, and industry. A hiring manager can change the ATS to search for specific qualifications depending on the job. There’s no one size fits all.

How do I pass my resume through ATS?

Remember, the ATS algorithm is seeking out keywords, job titles, education information, and the like. If your resume falls within these parameters, it will get passed on to hiring managers for the next round. An ATS resume should also avoid the factors that will get it discarded. 

So, here are three ways to beat the applicant tracking system:

1. Use an ATS-friendly resume template

You don’t want to use a resume format that is filled with complex, ornate designs. Although eye-catching, they may not be good for making it through an ATS. Since it’s looking for keywords, it may not spot them if they’re embedded in charts, for example. Keep your format simple, concise, and no longer than one or two pages. 

Ensure your jobs are formatted the same, with the employer, job title, and dates all in the same place for each role. Use Word documents, not PDFs. While most can scan PDFs, not all can. Don't include any white text/hidden words to trick the ATS. This is called "wordstuffing" and even if it makes it through the ATS, a recruiter will toss it immediately. Shun “decorative” items such as images or icons; many ATS scans can’t handle graphics. 

Make sure your resume isn’t password-protected or contains encryption. Use standard section headers and labels such as education or job history. Don’t get creative by using something like: “The Story of my Professional Journey.”  Use a common font such as Arial, Garamond, Times, or Georgia, and keep the font size between 10-12 points.

2. Know your keywords

Keywords are a crucial component of ATS optimization. Each resume you submit should be tailored for the job you're applying for and contain keywords from the individual job description. Use these keywords throughout your resume, not just in the skills section. You don't want to use them too much, either, because it will look strange to a hiring manager. When reviewing the job description, keep an eye out for hard skills—these are what the ATS will be scanning for. These industry-specific keywords are more important than soft skills such as time management, communication, or teamwork. 

Also, consider the concept of skill matching. ATS is often calibrated to determine a candidate's skill level and usually places a higher priority on recently used skills. To optimize this, include more content in your most recent roles and use quantifiable data when listing your accomplishments. Utilize action verbs and relevant industry jargon within reason. Highlight the specific skills that the employer is looking for, again referring back to the job description. 

Note that a reverse-chronological resume works best. Most ATS software assigns a weight to keywords based on how long you’re in a certain role, so functional resumes won’t perform well (if they’re able to be scanned at all). And, remember, customize your resume for each job you apply to. 

3. Be a star, not a drone

This may sound strange, but how you describe your skills and accomplishments matters. You want to sound like someone who gets things done, not someone who “does things.”  Your resume should tell a story about you, and this is where the quantifiable data comes into play. Back up your skills with numbers, percentages, or data points. 

For example:

  • Achieved a 37% increase in new client sales in the third quarter via an innovative business development strategy. 

In this case, not only are you using keywords from the job description, but you're putting them in a context that will appeal to a hiring manager.

  • Apply only for roles that you’re qualified for.
  • Include keywords with context.
  • Make your resume easy to read and uncluttered.
  • Proofread to avoid typos.
  • Apply for every single open job at a company.
  • Try to game the system. Even if you make it through the ATS, a recruiter will see that you’re not qualified.
  • Use graphics, strange fonts, hyperlinks, or unique section headings.

2 Templates and examples of an ATS-approved resume 

While your individual resume will vary based on your education, skills, and experience, you can use this template to create an ATS-friendly resume to make it through the system. The exact location of each section may also differ depending on your experience level. For instance, a recent graduate may wish to put their education on top rather than the bottom.

Here is a ATS resume template:


Name and contact information This information should include your name as well as your location, phone number, email, and LinkedIn profile, if you have one. Use a professional-looking email address to avoid getting negatively flagged in the ATS.

Professional Summary In this section, give a brief overview of your background. Include keywords from the job description.

Skills Include your hard and soft skills, aligning them with the job description.

Employment History  Add all relevant jobs from the past 10 years along with your job title, company name, location, and when you worked there, spelled out. Place your achievements in bullet points and use action verbs and keywords from the job description.

Education List your degrees, where you went to school, what you studied, and date of graduation (if less than five years ago).

Training/Certifications Put any certifications or completed courses relevant to the job description here.


Allison Jones Administrative/Executive Assistant [email protected] (555) 123-4567 Anytown, PA

Professional Summary: Forward-thinking, detail-oriented Administrative Assistant offering more than 12 years of success overseeing office functions with a focus on customer service and executive support. Level-headed and proactive administrator adept at planning, ordering, mail management, and phone systems. Tech-savvy with proficiency in MS Office Suite, Google Workspace, Basecamp, and Zoho CRM.


  • General Office Support

  • Telephone Etiquette

  • Event Management

  • Mail & Calendar Management

  • Customer Service

  • Reports & Presentations

  • Stakeholder Communications

Employment History Paper Company, Anytown, VA, September 2022-Present Administrative Assistant

Oversee all aspects of office operations, including analyzing procedures and recommending improvements to company leadership. Helm the reception desk, field and transfer incoming calls, and receive customers, giving them an outstanding first impression of the company. Coordinate, sort, and distribute incoming and outgoing mail. Copy, fax documents, and file paperwork from multiple departments. Order and maintain office supplies. Plan and facilitate company events such as picnics, parties, and departmental meetings.

  • Resourced a new office supply vendor yielding an annual savings of $5K a year.

  • Awarded Employee of the Month five times.

Family Insurance Company, Anytown, VA, May 2019-August 2022 Executive Assistant

Provided top-level administrative support to six executives, including duties such as calendar management, scheduling, and travel arrangements. Answered phones, took messages, and routed calls. Composed letters and emails for management. Organized filing system and compiled reports and presentations. Attended staff meetings and transcribed minutes. Spearheaded special projects such as company events and client meetings, including contacting vendors, booking venues, and communicating event details to customers.

  • Streamlined the office mail routing system, reducing errors by 12 percent.

  • Organized a grand opening party for clients, including publicity, catering, and event logistics. 

Education Associate of Arts in Business, 2020 Fairview Community College, Anytown, PA 

Certifications Administrative Assistant Certification The National Career Certification Board (NCCB), exp. 2025

Need a little help with writing your resume and making it ATS compliant? Check out Career.io’s Resume Template tool, which will provide you with a library of free ATS-compliant resume templates to use with our expert guides and resume builder to create a resume that gets you noticed.

Key takeaways

  1. ATS is software that companies use to scan and classify resumes to find qualified applicants for an open position, using keywords inputted by the company.

  2. The ATS algorithm searches for specific keywords and if a resume has these, it will get passed on to hiring managers.

  3. To pass the ATS, make sure your resume format is ATS friendly, uses keywords from the job description, uses a standard font, and is no longer than one or two pages.

Share this article