Resumes & Cover letters

ATS: Get Your Resume Noticed With ATS Keywords

To discover competent candidates, many businesses use software called applicant tracking systems (ATS) to sort among the resumes they get. For the ATS to recognize you as a great applicant, it’s critical to understand how to compose your resume utilizing keywords. This article explains how to incorporate keywords in your resume to bypass the applicant tracking system and catch the attention of hiring managers and recruiters.

What exactly are ATS keywords?

Employing ATS keywords on your resume will help you stand out to companies because they are terms or phrases that employers have identified as necessary for a certain position. The words that detect qualified individuals according to education, skills, experience, and the sector or position can be found in the ATS keywords.

Why should ATS keywords be included on a resume?

The applicant tracking system (ATS) swiftly scans dozens of resumes, and then evaluates candidates according to keywords selected by the company for the open position. For this reason, ATS keywords on a resume are crucial. This implies that before it is reviewed by a recruiter or hiring manager, your resume must successfully navigate the ATS. Your chances of being contacted for a preliminary phone screen or interview by a hiring manager are improved when you optimize your resume for ATS keywords.

Tips for including ATS keywords in your resume

Make sure your resume’s keywords are designed to pass ATS by following these steps:

  • Take time to read the job description.
  • Include keywords that are unique to each role.
  • Embrace sector-specific buzzwords.
  • Put the correct keywords in the appropriate place on your resume.
  • Correctly use spelling, numerals, and acronyms.
  • Write your CV with both the hiring manager and recruiter in mind.

1. Thoroughly go over the job description

Reading the job description for the job you’re looking for is the first thing you must do. Look for particular keywords the company used in the description. These keywords can be found in sections of the job description like the educational requirements, the duties, and the recommended credentials. Select keywords for your resume that are similar to those in the job description because the company may enter those same keywords into the applicant tracking system.

2. Incorporate keywords specific to roles

Next, go over your resume and double-check that it contains keywords relevant to the position you’re applying for. The name of the organization and the precise title of the position are the two main role-specific keywords that you should always utilize. This can be accomplished by including the position title and the organization’s name in the summary statement or the professional objective part of your resume.

Include any training, credentials, or licenses relevant to the position for which you are seeking. Last but not least, check that your resume demonstrates enough hard skills or the technical abilities required for the position.

3. Add industry-specific keywords

Next, add keywords that are relevant to your sector. Searching for “[industry] resume keywords” on Google will provide these terms. The job description may have already incorporated some of these terms. Including industry-specific keywords in your resume may help you distinguish yourself as a leader in your field if you come across any that weren’t mentioned in the job description but represent your pertinent expertise.

4. Incorporate the appropriate keywords into your resume.

Once you are aware of the ATS keywords you wish to use, you must decide where to place them in your resume. The overview statement, education, experience, and talents sections are the most crucial. Additionally, be sure to incorporate a few of your chosen keywords into your cover letter.

Start your resume by concentrating on the essential phrases that your summary statement or professional objective uses to describe your strongest abilities and most extensive degree of experience. Include any pertinent details about your education after that, like the kind of degree you hold and your focus areas. Include job-specific terms from the tasks and duties portion of the job description in the experience section of your resume. Lastly, ensure that your talents section combines soft and hard abilities that are pertinent to the job and industry.

5. Use proper spelling, numerals, and abbreviations.

Next, check your resume to make sure you utilized numbers and abbreviations appropriately and that you spelled your keywords accurately. You must spell your chosen keywords exactly as they appear in the job description. Abbreviations should be used in addition to a phrase or word that is spelled out if the job description has them. If the job description spells out numbers rather than writing them in numerical form, you should do the same.

6. Prepare your resume for the applicant tracking system (ATS) and the recruiting manager.

Last but not least, keep in mind that you are preparing your resume for more than just the ATS. After your resume successfully navigates the ATS, a hiring manager or recruiter will analyze it and determine whether they would like to consider you as an applicant.

While it is crucial to incorporate ATS keywords across your resume, you must also ensure that it remains readable by people and is not only crammed with keywords. Additionally, you should make sure you are truthful because the hiring manager or recruiter will probably find out if you are not. This means that if an ATS keyword does not accurately describe your training, experience, or skills, you shouldn’t use it.

Tips for ATS resume keywords

Here are some general pointers to keep in mind while writing your resume to get past an ATS:

Choose the proper file type.

Your resume’s keywords have to be readable by the ATS for them to be successful. Even while PDF files are typically the best for keeping the layout of your resume, ATS may not always accept them. Consider utilizing a DOC, DOCX, or plain text document instead of a PDF if the application doesn’t specifically list PDF as an accepted file format when submitting your resume.

Avoid using graphics and images

Avoid using photos, visuals, graphs, and charts in your resume because applicant tracking systems have trouble understanding and identifying them.

Avoid using buzzwords and jargon.

While keywords are crucial, stay away from buzzwords and jargon that are particular to your business or job. Jargon is a language that only members of a particular group can comprehend. Buzzwords are phrases and words that are frequently overused in resumes, like “self-starter” and “hard worker.”

What recruiters seek out in resumes

Your CV frequently represents your best and only chance to catch the attention of hiring managers and recruiters. Your objective is to make it simple for them to realize that you possess the qualities they are looking for in a perfect candidate. A hiring manager or recruiter may skim over your resume to check whether those qualifications stand out since they may be skimming through dozens of applications.

Tips for Creating a strong resume

To create a resume that is simple for employers to locate and understand, abide by these guidelines:

1. Go through the job description thoroughly

Read the job description carefully to determine the traits, abilities, and experience that the company is looking for. Write down any that apply to you from the terms and phrases they use to define the ideal candidate. Include those keywords in your resume’s summary, abilities, and professional background sections when customizing it. List your relevant or comparable expertise if you don’t quite fit the bill.

It’s also crucial to remember that software known as an applicant tracking system (ATS) is frequently used to sift online job applications. This software searches cover letters and resumes for pertinent experience, abilities, and other keywords so that employers may quickly find qualified individuals.

When looking for applicants proactively on Indeed Resume, employers frequently utilize the same keywords from recruitment advertising. You can improve the likelihood of being found by making sure your resume corresponds to what potential employers may be looking for. You might wish to focus your job search to discover a better match if you lack many of the mentioned prerequisite knowledge and expertise.

2. Employ an easy-to-read style.

The objective while creating your resume is to try and make it as simple as possible for companies to see why you’re a wonderful prospect. As a result, the most significant and pertinent information is presented first, while irrelevant or out-of-date information—such as positions you held more than ten years ago—is removed.

Include a résumé summary at the beginning, as well as information about your name, address, and education and employment history. Page layouts with columns, charts, or another complex formatting might be challenging for applicant tracking systems to understand. Remember to select a 10- to 12-point font size and a straightforward, professional font like Arial, Calibri, or Georgia.

Those sections’ ordering may change depending on your past experiences and the employment you’re applying for. Below are three of the most common resume formats, each with a unique positioning:

  • The most typical resume structure is a chronological one that lists your work background first. If your job history is extensive and there are no gaps in your employment, a chronological resume is an excellent choice.
  • A functional resume format puts the focus on the skills section and is a suitable choice if you’re transferring sectors or have some gaps in your employment history.
  • A combination resume format combines functional and chronological resume styles and is suitable if you possess some work experience where both abilities and job history are equally significant.

3. Compose an overview for your resume.

A heading or resume summary statement at the top of your resume, sometimes referred to as a resume objective, is one technique to prominently display your most important qualifications. Any reader should be able to identify your competence and career objectives from this summary.

The shortest version is a headline; one line should encompass all of your accomplishments. You can go a little longer in a summary or objective statement; one to two sentences are usually a suitable length.

Start by reflecting on your proudest professional achievements and what makes you unique in the workplace. Study the job descriptions you’re thinking about very carefully. Do they demand a particular certification or a certain amount of experience? The best spot to inform the employer that you meet these qualifications is in your headline.

For instance, a customer service agent with a reputation for satisfying customers in the retail sector would write: Client success agent with 15+ years’ experience.

The same goes for a qualified dental assistant who might write: Licensed dental aid with more than twelve years of direct patient care experience.

Both of these are excellent illustrations of catchy, descriptive headlines. You may follow it up with a slightly more detailed explanation of your qualifications and professional objectives.

Examples of resume summaries and headings

Headline: Customer success representative with over ten years of expertise in making retail customers happy.

Summary: Experienced in addressing customer issues over chat, email, and the phone; regularly praised by management and colleagues for their forceful and upbeat demeanor. I’m eager to advance my e-commerce career.

Headline: 12+ years of direct patient care experience as a certified dental assistant.

Summary: Extensive expertise in charting, planning, and providing best-in-class customer service. extensive understanding of dental vocabulary and clinical techniques. searching for new openings in the dental industry.

Headline: Business administration graduate seeking a position in financial services.

Summary: Seeking entry-level positions in the financial services industry with advanced knowledge of Excel and intermediate SQL abilities.

Headline: Strong background as a creative head in an agency environment for a graphic designer.

Summary: Knowledge of HTML, CSS, Javascript, Sketch, and the Adobe Creative Cloud.

4. List the work experience you have.

Your professional experience is the next section to write on your resume after the summary. (Note: Your education may occasionally be mentioned before your professional experience. Though it varies by industry and the time you earned your degree, it’s more typical today to list your education near the end of your resume. Education will be discussed further down.)

It’s not as easy to just list out all you’ve accomplished in your profession as you may think. Instead, you should only highlight the aspects of your prior work that are particularly pertinent to the job you intend to accomplish going forward. Instead of using paragraphs, arrange your professional experience using bullet points. Strong action verbs in the introduction should be followed by an accomplishment as opposed to a task. Employers care about your accomplishments, not just the work you’ve done.

What distinguishes a task from an accomplishment? Below are some of the examples:

Example 1

Task: Welcomed clients

Accomplishment: Welcomed clients and provided them with helpful and pleasant service.

Example 2

Task: Examined the effectiveness of marketing campaigns

Accomplishment: Reported on advertising campaign ROI, increasing campaign effectiveness by 30%

Example 3

Task: Checked vitals of patients and revised charts

Accomplishment: Updated patient charts using an EMR system and conducted standard clinical tasks while maintaining patient comfort.

Whenever feasible, include measurable results.

Employers will better comprehend your contributions if you do this. A manager in operations might put down, as an example, “Identified and carried out supply chain enhancements that reduced fulfillment costs by 27%.” The same may be said by a salesperson in a retail establishment: “Regularly reviewed showroom stock and updated showcases with inventory, boosting daily sales by 33%.”

Not all of the bullet points on your CV will have measurable outcomes. Consider whether there is a relevant figure that can help prospective employers understand each accomplishment you list.

Give specifics about your most recent work.

Include more information about your most recent positions and less information about those from earlier in your career. If you have a lot of experience, it makes sense to only include data from the most recent ten years. Your recent successes are more likely to pique an employer’s curiosity.

Fill in any employment gaps

Fill in employment gaps if you can with different experiences, like learning something new or doing freelance work. During the period when you were not professionally employed, did you attend any classes, obtain any certificates, or volunteer? You can enter “Self-employed” in place of an employer if you operated on personal projects or worked as a freelancer. The same instructions regarding how to list your accomplishments here also apply.

5. Add a section on education

Education is frequently stated toward the bottom of a resume. This may not apply if you’re newly graduated or applying for employment that requires special credentials, such as those in the healthcare sector.

List all applicable degrees or certificates that qualify you for this position in the education part of your resume. If you have a degree, list the sort of degree you have, the area of study, the name of your school, the location, and the state. If you have any honors, list them.

Your GPA is not required, particularly if it is below 3.5 or you graduated more than five years ago. You also don’t have to include your graduation date unless you just graduated. For instance:

Example 1

B.A. in History

Arizona State University, Tucson, Arizona

Magna cum laude Cardiovascular Sonography

Bunker Heights Neighborhood College, Boston, MA

Honors: Dean’s list

If you have numerous degrees, start with the one with the highest level of education.

Example 2

You can record the credits you earned even if you participated in a course of study but did not complete it. For instance:

University of Indiana, Terre Haute

Finished 75 credits for a business administration bachelor’s degree.

Example 3

If you’re enrolled in a course of study, you can mention the degree you’re aiming for and when you anticipate graduating. Employers might want to know your GPA if you’re still attending school and looking for internships. For instance:

B.S. in computer science; expected to graduate in June 2023

Houston Mudd College, Pennsylvania, CA

GPA: 4.2

6. Make a list of pertinent hard and soft talents.

You should provide a list of your professional qualifications for the positions you’ve submitted applications for in your talents section. In their job descriptions, employers will state the skill sets they’re seeking. Look over the posting carefully.

The two main categories of skills are hard skills and soft skills. Interpersonal communication, organization, and attention to detail are examples of soft talents. Hard talents, like understanding a foreign language, are more frequently associated with particular equipment, programs, or expertise. While soft skills are more generally applicable, hard talents will differ by sector or job type.

Your skills can be listed in a single paragraph, with commas between each skill. Start by focusing on your strongest areas of expertise. You could specify your stages of mastery as follows:

Advanced knowledge of ProSystems, Quickbooks, and Excel. Some experience with Checkpoint and SAP.

Advice: If you’re looking for a position where a particular talent is frequently assumed, leave it off your list. Microsoft Office is an example that applies to many jobs. Instead, concentrate on the skills that make up that skill. If you know how to use Excel’s macros, pivot tables, and lookups, for example, you may list those instead of “Microsoft Office.”

Review of your resume for errors

After spending the effort to construct a strong CV, you don’t want spelling and grammar errors to prevent you from submitting a strong application. Correcting errors as you find them, proofread your resume from top to bottom and afterward from bottom to top. Asking a friend or member of your family to go through it for you will help you catch errors because they are viewing it with fresh eyes.

You’ll be prepared to apply for employment once you’ve proofread your resume.


In conclusion, incorporating ATS (Applicant Tracking System) keywords into your resume is essential for getting your resume noticed by hiring managers and increasing your chances of securing an interview. By understanding the specific keywords and phrases that align with the job description and industry, you can optimize your resume to pass through ATS filters and stand out among other applicants.

However, it is crucial to maintain a balance between keyword optimization and creating a well-written, tailored resume that showcases your skills, qualifications, and accomplishments. Remember to use keywords strategically throughout your resume, especially in the summary, skills section, and job descriptions, while ensuring that the content remains compelling and relevant. By effectively using ATS keywords, you can enhance your resume’s visibility, increase your chances of getting noticed by recruiters, and move closer to your desired career opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions about ATS

  • What are ATS keywords, and why are they important?

ATS keywords are specific words or phrases used by Applicant Tracking Systems to identify relevant resumes. These systems scan and rank resumes based on the presence of keywords related to the job description. Using ATS keywords in your resume is important because it increases the chances of your resume being selected by the system and reviewed by human recruiters.

  • How can I identify the right ATS keywords to include in my resume?

To identify the right ATS keywords, carefully review the job description and highlight the most frequently mentioned skills, qualifications, and specific industry-related terms. You can also research industry-specific keywords using online resources and professional networks. Look for keywords that accurately represent your experience and qualifications and ensure they align with the requirements of the job you’re applying for.

  • Where should I include ATS keywords in my resume?

It’s important to strategically incorporate ATS keywords throughout your resume. Key areas to include are in the summary or objective statement, skills section, and within the descriptions of your work experience and achievements. However, ensure that the keywords are seamlessly integrated into the content and that your resume remains clear, concise, and well-written.

  • Should I use exact keyword matches or variations of the keywords?

While using exact keyword matches is important, it’s also beneficial to include variations and synonyms of the keywords to account for potential variations in the wording used by different employers. This ensures that your resume captures a broader range of relevant terms and increases the likelihood of matching with different ATS filters.

  • Is it enough to focus solely on ATS keywords in my resume?

While including ATS keywords is crucial, it’s equally important to create a well-crafted resume that highlights your skills, experiences, and accomplishments. Balance keyword optimization with compelling content and clear formatting. Remember that ultimately, your resume should impress both the ATS system and the human recruiters who review it. Tailor your resume to the job requirements, emphasize your achievements, and present your qualifications professionally and concisely.

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