How To Make Your Resume ATS Optimized in 2024

Aditi Sinha | April 2024

If you are applying to jobs in 2024 it is quite probable that you have heard the acronym ATS thrown around. 99% of Fortune 500 companies are using applicant tracking systems to screen candidates. The presence of the ATS is making job seekers' lives difficult and is the source of many complaints as to why they are not landing any interviews. 

Today, I will present to you an opportunity to overcome the ATS, make your resume ATS friendly, and adapt to the difficulties of the current job market. The ATS is simply part of the game and you need to adapt or get left in the dust. 

While you may have heard the term, you may not have a concrete understanding of what an ATS actually is, or what it does to your resume. I will spell out my understanding of the system so that we are on the same page going forward. 

The ATS is a system corporations use to screen candidates that apply to their company. It is a computer program that has the ability to process your resume and compare you to a set of criteria the company is looking for.

For example, let's say you are applying to Microsoft for a mid level front end programmer role. The ATS is programmed to look at your resume for your college education, skills, and relevant work experience in the space of front end programming.  (See image below)

How does it do this you might ask? There is only one source of information the algorithm has, and that is the words on your resume. It is looking for the specific words it has been programmed to detect. Think of this algorithm like the program on Microsoft Word which lets you CTRL F on a document and search for a word within the wall of text. The ATS can look for several words at the same time and will output a list or score to the company, reporting on how qualified it thinks you are for the job. 

In summary, the algorithm is looking for specific keywords in your resume to determine how qualified you are for the job. It then relays this information to a hiring manager who makes the decision on if they should contact you or move onto more qualified candidates. 

Now that we understand the fundamentals of an ATS, what can you as the job seeker do to have a better chance of landing an interview? There are only 3 things I recommend you do to beat the ATS. They are:

  • Improve your resume formatting
  • Apply to jobs you're qualified for
  • Personalize your resume to fit the specific job description 

Let's cover these one by one.

How to Format Your Resume For The ATS

As previously mentioned, the ATS is attempting to pull words off your resume and compare them to the list of words it thinks makes you a qualified candidate. If your resume is formatted improperly, the ATS might miss sections that have relevant keywords.

In order to avoid the risk of sections of your resume getting ignored, it is crucial that you build your resume in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Use a standard document format and avoid the use of tables. Tables are the #1 formatting mistake that prevents job seekers from scoring well on the ATS. If you have them on your resume currently, rebuild your resume before you submit another application. 

The next formatting mistake made is not using headers. The ATS is designed to detect when text is normal or formatted as a header. Headers help break your resume into sections and make it easier for the ATS to find relevant information such as your skills and education. I recommend you break your resume into 5 subsections:

  • Name and Contact information 
  • Mission Statement
  • Work Experience
  • Skills 
  • Education 

This is all it really takes to impress the ATS. Less is more. Make your resume easy to read with a standard Word or Doc file, and break it into sections with headers. Never use a table and you will have a resume that is easy to pull keywords from.

Pro Tip: Resume AI by will convert your resume into an ATS friendly format!

Check If You’re Qualified For The Job

Once your resume is formatted appropriately you must ask yourself if you are qualified for the job you are applying to. If you have entry level skills and experience but are applying for senior level positions, you will never get an interview. Be honest with yourself and filter down your job search to include positions that are in alignment with your degree and prior experience. If you are trying to break into a new market, you will need to work extra hard on the next tip to compensate for the lack of relevant experience. 

Personalize Your Resume For Each Role

Personalization is the true secret to beat the ATS. If you have a well formatted resume and are applying to a job you are well qualified for, you may still fail to achieve an interview if you do not personalize your resume. Remember the fundamental truth about the ATS. It is grading you based on the words within your resume. If in reality you are qualified, but you do not articulate your value appropriately on paper, you will never be given the chance to prove your worth. 

So, how does one go about personalizing their resume? To start, you have to assess the job description. The company provides hints within the job description as to what skills and experience they are looking for. This information feeds the ATS and is your only source as to what the company is looking for. You need to study the qualifications and responsibilities section and identify what skills you have that are not properly stated on your resume. If the job description says you need Microsoft Word and PowerPoint skills, but your resume says Microsoft Product Suite proficiency, you need to personalize this application to include the specific keywords of Word and PowerPoint. 

Make sense? Well, it is easier said than done. You will certainly land more interviews by personalizing each application, the only issue is it is difficult and time consuming. Finding the right keywords from the job description and including them in your resume can take upwards of 30 minutes per application, which dramatically reduces how many applications you can send out in a day. 

Because of how difficult this process is, many job seekers give up and just click easy apply. Do not succumb to this temptation, and instead use the power of AI to streamline your job search. The team at has created the ResumeAI tool to help the job seeker personalize every application in a matter of seconds. Simply upload your resume and paste the job description into the website and within 20 seconds you will have a downloadable resume that includes relevant keywords from the job description. This tool will save you time and increase how many interviews you receive. 

Try ResumeAI For Free Today  

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