7 Ways to Avoid ATS Robot Rejection on Your Resume

ATS programs are used by recruiters to scan a resume and keep track of people who apply to jobs at their companies. ATS stands for “applicant tracking system”, which is a digital tool that assists with the collection, sorting, and analysis of resumes.

Here are 7 ways to optimise your resume to avoid robot rejection through ATS.

ATS systems are essentially large filing cabinets, that place candidates into categories to assist the recruiter.

If there are 500 applications for a specific position, you can understand why a recruiter would want the help of a program to sort those people into different groups and track their progress through the hiring process.

As Amy Miller, a Senior Tech Recruiter stated in one of LinkedIn’s #gethired open conversations, “there are different categories people can be in, but they all happen in folders in the filing cabinet. You may be in a folder of applicants waiting to be reviewed, for example. Or, you may be in a folder of reviewed applicants who have been rejected. There are many possibilities.”


Despite the reality of them being large digital filing cabinets, many job seekers end up stressed out about encountering these systems.

First, it’s worth understanding that an ATS is programmed to scan for keywords as well as other information such as former employers, experience, universities, and qualifications. 

They categorise candidates automatically in order of potential interest for the recruiter. As a result, ATS may reject more than half the resumes they scan.

Here are 7 tips to ensure your resume lands in the hands of humans after the initial filing process of ATS programmes:

  1. Tailor your resume each time you apply for a new job position
  2. Optimise for internal ATS search and ranking algorithm by including the keywords from the job description into your resume
  3. Ensure the keywords in your resume match the lingo used in the job description. To avoid incorrect ATS scans include the long-form and acronym abbreviation of words (eg: “Master of Business Administration (MBA)” or “Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)” for maximum searchability)
  4. Use a traditional and easy to read font, such as; Arial, Helvetica, Calibri or Georgia
  5. Avoid images, charts or other graphics that can be difficult to read
  6. Use standard resume section headings like ‘Work Experience’ and ‘Education History’
  7. Select the right file type for your resume. Save your file as a .docx if possible as this is easiest for ATS systems to process

Implement these tips and utilise the free resources available to scan your resume alongside the desired job description to see how well your resume will perform in applicant tracking systems.

Job seekers should still be utilising other practices to increase the chances of finding work such as market research, networking and connecting on LinkedIn.

However, by following these 7 best practices, you can avoid the applicant tracking system’s robot rejection and ensure you land in the human hands of recruiters.

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