How to optimize a resume for ATS in 2021

ats resume templates 2021

As you have already understood, this post is fully related to an ATS (applicant tracking systems) and whether it’s possible to hack ta system to increase your chances to get an interview. We’re not going to talk about some hard skills or tricky approaches. Only SIMPLE ways on how to boost your chances. Each job seeker could do that without some specific skills. 

Before we’re going to deep into some details and start discussing instructions, let’s understand basic things about applicant tracking software. The best way to show you how it works – real life example. Let’s imagine a situation, when you have already prepared a resume, picked a best 2021 resume format to make recruiter life easier, polished everything. Six seconds test is already passed, because you have already run it, ask your friends to read a prepared resume. To be frank, your resume has not 90%+ match to a vacant position like a targeted resume, but pretty interesting to get scanned by a hiring manager. 

BUT suddenly something went wrong! 

An average job seeker, who has never tried to write a resume from a scratch.

A resume was sent to a hiring manager 3+ days ago. You were waiting all that time with hope they should mail you back. Silence. Complete silence. Nobody mailed you back. You are starting nervous, because you can’t understand what went wrong. The most terrible thing in this case, that you can’t even understand if somebody have seen your CV. There is no feedback from that end. 

Each applicant tracking software is gathering keywords from your resume and trying to match them with a list of keywords hiring manager add to the system.

Unfortunately, you are a victim of ATS. And today we’re going to talk about what exactly you should do, crafting a resume for such kind of recruitment software. 

Latest ATS resume 2021 examples

What is an ATS?

ATS – (also known as an applicant tracking system) – is a kind of software both huge corporations and small companies using to optimize their recruitment processes. A key idea of and ATS products to scan a candidate’s CV and to provide a match score for a hiring manager, whether this resume is the best match or not. Based on match score (depends on keywords destiny, experience, skills, etc.), hiring manager tuning setting to get only the most relevant resume inbox.  

Initially, applicant tracking software was developer for huge companies to improve recruitment processes and decrease time to hire metrics. The key function is to scan a resume and using values added by user, recommend a CV to a user or to move it to the trash pile. 

How ATS works. Common algorithm 

How to hack an ATS in 2021
Want to know how to beat an ATS system and get employed this year?

Once you have already submitted a resume to an application form or sent a resume via email, it was automatically routed to an applicant tracking system. It parse a CV, splitting all the sentences, which are possible to recognize into a dedicated phrases or words. After the previous step is finished and array of phrases and keywords is created, it moves to the next step.

The next step job is to compare to arrays. The first array of keywords and phrases from the previous step and the second, which was created by a hiring manager. You could ask “Does HR need to add some keywords to ATS?” YES, because they want to get a resume, where exact keywords destiny is more than a specific value. 

And the last, but not least step – decision. Using already set values by a hiring manager, ATS system follows instructions whether to send a resume to a hiring manager or skip it. That’s the core principles of each applicant tracking software.  

How to write a resume in 2021 for ATS 

File type for resume matters

Despite the popular resume trends, ,making a resume in pdf could be a really tricky moment for those candidates, who would like to beat an ATS. PDF extension could be the best option for cases, when hiring manager is asking a resume directly, but not when you need to submit a CV via application form. 

The best solution for this case is to have resume in two different file extensions. Microsoft .doc and .docx for application forms, when applicant tracking software would try to recognize text. The second one is for hiring managers, when they are asking for a CV directly.

Don’t use header or footer to store important info

A key reason to avoid using headers and footers to include important information – not all applicant tracking systems works correctly with this areas, when parsing an information from there. That’s why it’s much better to use proper resume example 2021 without footer and header. 

Keywords are the core of ATS 

When we’re talking about different tactics on how to beat an ATS – keywords is most efficient way on how to boost your chances to get employed. There are two main approaches on how to collect them and to use in your resume. The first one is pretty simple, you know what exact keywords to include to a resume. The second one is more intelligent and accurate. You need to use vacancy description to extract keywords, which needs to be included in your CV.

Don’t use buzzword, use keywords!

There is no need to stop on the first approach, where you can create a list of keywords on your own. We’re going to deep into second approach, where you need to create a list of keywords, which will bring you a results.

  1. Choose up to 10 different job descriptions (for the position you are looking for). Use popular resources like or other. 
  2. Copy text of job descriptions to a dedicated file.
  3. Grab all the skills together and sort them.
  4. Match the list with skills in your resume.
  5. Add the difference to your CV, but not more than 10 skills.
  6. Use only the most relevant for you.

Exclude pictures from your CV 

Most applicant tracking software cant recognize text on pictures, Even they can do that, algorithms are not brilliant, It would not be possible to read for a hiring manager. We would suggest you to remove all graphic elements from a resume.

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