5 Resume Mistakes That Doom it to the ATS Black Hole

By James Hu

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You feel like this job is the one and excitedly hit submit, only to never again hear from the company. We all share the frustration of feeling like you are sending your resume into some black hole in cyberspace where no one is reading it. In all honesty, you might be. Perhaps you’ve heard of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), through which many companies do their hiring. These systems collect resumes and applications, sorting them by position, keywords, and skillsets. If you have the requisite information, your job chances increase, while lower matches between your resume and the job opening will doom your resume to the black hole. Here are some common resume mistakes that will doom even the most qualified candidates.


1. Misspelling words will doom your resume faster than you can misspell definitely.

While this holds true for any resume or cover letter you are submitting, it is especially important when it comes to ATS. As efficient as the systems are in tracking candidates and their skillsets, they will not register misspelled resume keywords, and it will not be able to rank you for that qualification.


2. Fancy Formatting will not help optimize your resume for Applicant Tracking Systems.

Borders, graphics, or tables in your resume may be visually compelling, but ATS doesn’t have eyes. Save those for in person meetings, like job fairs or interviews. When it comes to ATS, the simpler the better. Don’t run the risk of excluding content for the sake of visuals.


3. Writing your resume with a thesaurus will prevent your resume from ranking well when a Hiring Manager searches something more simple.


Don’t try to impress Hiring Managers with vocabulary in your resume. Optimize your resume for ATS by writing well while staying consistent with the industry’s terminology. While a Hiring Manager will understand what you mean, ATS runs the risk of not compiling that synonym in the same way, which may cause it to overlook it. Matching your terms and keywords from the job description will boost your chances of a higher match. For example, the phrases Work History or Work Experience commonly categorize these sections on a resume. By ascribing to this standard, ATS will more easily interpret and file the content of your resume.


4. Hiding your skills by not being explicit throughout your resume can harm your chances. Select a format that allows you to demonstrate your skills.  

When using ATS, chances are the hiring manager will not be searching for a past company to draw their candidate pool. Rather, they will search by keywords and skills. Highlight the skills in your Work History by quantifying them wherever you can. For example, instead of stating your social media prowess, show the success of your latest campaign with the number of shares, followers gained, virality, and especially revenues earned.

The best resume format to incorporate skills is the hybrid resume, which not only shows your experience and but also leaves a designated section for listing skills. This allows you to bulk up your keywords and get noticed.


5. Tailoring your resume for each position, using the job description provided, will help optimize your chances of using the keywords and skills said company is seeking.

For every job you apply for, you should customize your resume to match the description. Be explicit when matching your skills and qualifications to those called for in the job description. Hiring Managers create that for a reason, and it is the best insight into what they are looking for. Pay attention to the frequency of those words within the post. If “financial analysis” is emphasized throughout the listing, see how you can rework your resume to clearly list your accomplishment with this particular skill. On a similar note, if a job has specific requirements, for example competency in the Adobe Creative Suite, don’t be afraid to create a skills section where you can list that. The more skills you have that match the description, the better you will rank among other applicants.

Tailoring your resume can be the hardest part of the application process. Jobscan is an online tool that mimics ATS. Jobscan.co allows you to input your resume and any job description to see how they match up. Jobscan will also identify the target words in the job description. From there, boost your match percentage by adding those words and skills. Copy and paste your resume and job description below to see how it matches up your dream job, and get out of that black hole, once and for all!



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