ATS Resume Test: Free ATS Checker and Formatting Examples (2020 Updated)

Aug 3, 2020

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Career Expert, ZipJob

An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

If you’re been job searching in the digital age, you’ve probably heard about a type of software called “Applicant Tracking Systems” or ATS. An ATS is used by over 90% of employers today to screen through resumes and pass the most relevant and qualified candidates forward to the hiring manager. 

Nearly 75% of resumes are rejected because they’re not correctly formatted or keyword optimized. This post will show you examples of a good ATS resume format and a valuable hack to get past the filters.

If you just want to know how your resume performs on an ATS scan, head over to Zipjob’s free resume review.

How does an ATS work?

ATS resume scanning software is designed to scan a resume for work experience, skills, education, and other relevant information. If it determines the resume is a good match for the position, it gets sent forward to the hiring manager.

ATS resume scan

The resumes that don’t meet the pre-set qualifications are rejected and the resume is never seen by human eyes.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that there are many qualified candidates who are rejected because their resumes aren’t written and formatted with ATS readability in mind. The truth is, very few resumes are read top to bottom by a human when deciding who to interview for a job.

From simple resume formats to identifying keywords, this post has all the answers on getting your resume past an ATS.

How to make an ATS compatible resume

There are five things to keep in mind when writing your resume to get past an ATS:

  1. Standard formatting
  2. Keyword optimization
  3. Send as a Word document
  4. Spell out abbreviations
  5. Include relevant information

1. Standard formatting for ATS scans

Use a standard resume format free of any images, designs, charts, and tables. A clear and concise resume is easy for an ATS to process–and it’s also what hiring managers prefer.

We have a post about the three most popular formats for resumes in the US. We also recently published 200+ resume examples with a downloadable resume template designed for ATS compatibility.

2. ATS keyword optimization

This is one of the most important elements of a resume in regards to passing an ATS test. Keywords, in this case, refer to words that the ATS may be looking for that match the industry or job description. The more keywords you have that the employer wants, the greater you’ll score on an ATS scan.

Your resume should already contain core industry keywords and the job description is another great place to look for keywords.

💡ZipTip: read our complete guide on exactly how to use keywords on your resume.

Making a list of core competencies on a resume allows you to easily swap keywords in and out when applying for different positions.

If a position lists knowledge of Excel and Quickbooks as requirements, make sure those skills are listed in the right place on your resume.

Example of a keyword-optimized skills section:

Keywords for ATS resume test

This section can change slightly for every job application.

3. Send as a Word document

A Word document, specifically a .doc or .docx file, is easily processed by all ATS out there and it’s also preferred by the majority of hiring managers. Although most ATS systems now process a PDF, some ATS still have trouble with them.

In our team of experts’ opinion, it isn’t worth the risk to preserve your formatting on an online application! Send your resume as a Word .doc to rest assured that your resume can be read easily by any ATS.

4. Spell out abbreviations

An ATS may not understand all abbreviations, which is why it’s important to spell out any abbreviation you use at least once. The ATS may be looking for the non-abbreviated form of the word instead of an abbreviation, so be sure to spell out any abbreviations.

One final reason to do this is to help anyone looking at your resume understand what you do without confusing or industry-specific jargon. The person in charge of hiring is not necessarily an expert on the job’s functions. Make your resume easy to understand!

Examples of spelling out abbreviations:

  • CPA (Certified Public Accountant)
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • MBA (Master of Business Administration)

5. Include relevant information

The ATS scans your resume to determine if it contains relevant information and experience. Don’t submit two pages of experience from a sales position for an accounting job. The ATS will most likely reject you because your resume contains very little relevant information.

If you don’t have any relevant experience, try to include education, skills, or even reword your past experience so it’s relevant to the position. You can leverage your transferable skills to better match what this job is looking for.

Free ATS resume compatibility test

You can see how your resume performs on an ATS scan with Zipjob’s free resume review tool.

ATS Scan

Our in-house ATS system will parse your resume for skills and experience, just like the software used by big employers. Your confidential review will also include some tips from one of our professional resume writers!

Now that we’ve gone over all the tips, let’s put it all together with a good resume format to use for ATS scans.

ATS resume format example:

Good example of a resume for ATS: with contact information, resume title, core proficiencies, professional experience, and education and training sections

Here’s why this resume format is compatible with ATS:

  • Uses a traditional, reverse-chronological format
  • Relevant keywords throughout the resume
  • Simple formatting with clear headings
  • Degrees and abbreviations are spelled out
  • All experience relates to the same career target

💡ZipTip: view 200+ more professional resume samples for all industries, along with a 2020 guide to writing resumes from our experts.

Bonus: ultimate ATS resume hack

We already mentioned this ATS hack above but the best way to get past the filters is to use keywords you find in the job description.

Let’s take a look at a sample job posting from Indeed:

Highlighted are good keywords you can include on your resume.

Accountant Responsibilities

Perform monthly, quarterly and annual accounting activities including reconciliations of bank and credit card accounts, coordination and completion of annual audits, and reviewing financial reports/support as necessary

Analyze and report on financial status including income statement variances, communicating financial results to management, budget preparation and analysis.

Oversee taxes and abide by federal regulations

Accountant skills

  • 5+ years accounting experience
  • Expertise with QuickBooks
  • Extensive knowledge of US GAAP
  • Advanced computer skills in MS Office, accounting software and databases
  • Additional experience in Audit and International accounting
  • Experience with SaaS companies
  • CPA certification

If you can incorporate all of these keywords at least once on your resume, you will pass the ATS scan with flying colors.

Check ATS compatibility

Summary

Applying for jobs online today means you must keep the ATS technology in mind. If you use the tips, hack, and free ATS test discussed in this article, you’ll see better results from your job applications!

Do you have more questions? Comment below.

Good luck with your job search!

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An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

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