How to Build an ATS-Friendly Resume: Elements, Tips & Examples of ATS Resume

An ATS resume is crucial when applying for a position. An ATS-friendly resume allows the hiring manager to have a faster process in choosing applications. With applicant tracking software resumes, many resumes were filtered out by this system and would not even be seen by the recruiter.

By creating an ATS-friendly resume, your resume would possess a higher chance of being viewed.

What Is an ATS-Compliant Resume?

An ATS resume checker is used frequently to make the whole recruiting process faster. In short, it is a software which checks if you are qualified for the following job. Therefore, before your resume is handed to your hiring manager, many companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) as software to filter out applicants.

Resumes are automatically scanned and only those with correct keywords and formats, which would be called as an ATS friendly resume, would pass this scanning process. In other words, crafting an ATS-friendly resume is very helpful for your job search.

Optimized Keywords

When the system is scanning your resume, it scans for certain job-related keywords that the  employer requires. By including the proper keywords in your ATS resume, you would be reckoned as qualified for this position. The best way to see what keywords your applicant tracking software resume inquires is to brief through the job description and try to write them in your ATS resume for more than once.

Job Titles

If you’re experienced in the requested field, remember to put your past job titles to stand out. Writing down relevant job experiences is vital to crafting an ATS compatible resume. By doing so, the ATS scanning system would get to know that you acquired some working experience that would make you outstanding, and your resume would be deemed as an ATS approved resume.

Hard Skills

Remember to write down hard skills you own on your ATS resume that are essential for the position. Especially if the companies have stated on the job description that they are looking for people with specific hard skills, don’t hesitate and put them in!

Standard Headings

Make your headings clear and easy-to-read, since it is how the resume scanner would view your resume from. With a standard heading, ATS software would know which part to look through more easily.

Simple Design

Keep note of avoiding resume formats that are too complicated, for it might end up unrecognizable for resume scanners. Therefore, an ATS-friendly resume usually uses simple templates to make it readable.

How to Make Your Resume ATS-Friendly

After you’ve understood what an ATS-friendly resume is and how an ATS-approved resume would out-stand others, you would probably be eager to know how to make your resume ATS-friendly.

Here are the sections that must be included in an ATS-compliant resume.

1. Personal Details

It is essential to put your personal details in your ATS-friendly resume. Especially your name, phone number, or any other contact information. This section may not seem that useful, but it is actually important because this is how your hiring managers know how to contact you if they want to proceed to work further with you.

2. Headline

As mentioned above, when constructing your ATS-friendly resume, remember to put down suitable headlines to stand out. A good headline would give your resume a higher chance to be recognized as an ATS-approved resume by applicant tracking system software since your headline should be already highly related to the job description given.

Remember to include the job title from the job description in your headline.

3. Profile Summary

A resume summary would present a brief introduction about yourself. Adding it into your ATS-friendly resume with correct keywords would also make the ATS scanner recognize you as a suitable candidate for the job.

4. Work Experience

Work experience in an ATS resume is also very important. Related work experience could make you look more qualified, and you would be more likely to earn the position.

You could include the previous experience that the job description asked for to increase the chance of being considered as an ATS-approved resume since many consider job descriptions as the most important section. It is where employers could see how well you did in your previous jobs and if you possess the right skills for the job.

5. Education

You could also briefly write down your educational background on your ATS resume to show you have learned related knowledge which could be useful. The ATS resume scanner also scans for keywords related to the required education background for the job, so including your education can make your resume an ATS-approved one.

6. Skills

Suitable skills written on your resume would make it more ATS-friendly. When your employers want to search for a particular skill, they could find it easily.

7. Additional Sections

If there’s extra space, you could also add some additional sections like hobbies, interests, projects, or other activities which you find fascinating or would want to present to your recruiter. Of course, these skills have to be relevant to the job position.

For instance, if you are applying for an Investment Banker position, stating “cooking” as your hobby would likely get you nowhere and just waste space on your resume.

Tips for Creating an ATS-Friendly Resume

Before jumping into writing your ATS resume, some tips should be kept in mind.

The following are the tips we highly recommended:

💡 Include keywords from the job description.

As aforementioned, while crafting your ATS resume, remember to look back on the job description. Make sure you’ve fully understood what kind of person the companies are looking for, and put keywords to your ATS-compatible resume.

💡 Pick the right resume format.

Generally, there are three different kinds of resume formats. However, studies showed that a chronological resume format is the most compatible ATS-friendly resume format. Since it could connect your past experience and emphasize them, it is often recommended.

💡 Choose an ATS-friendly resume template.

Some deem an outstanding resume should be more colorful. But a resume with lots of complex elements is usually difficult to read and the ATS resume checker mostly does not recognize colors and images. Therefore, an ATS-friendly resume template should be rather simple.

💡 Use the right headings for your resume sections.

Correct headings would give employers better prospects. The headline should include vital information that you want to express. Keep note that tries not to be too vague.

❌ WRONG resume headline example:

"Assisted marketing manager and accomplished KPI for that season."

✅ CORRECT resume headline example:

"Digital marketer who had 5+ years of experience in SEO/SEM."

💡 Use a common resume font.

Use a common resume font would make your ATS-friendly resume more recognizable by the resume scanner software. If the resume is written in a rare font, it may be hard to understand or to be read.

💡 Send your resume in the correct file format.

You may craft your resume in any software. But be aware of saving it in PDF files. Since if you save it as documents, the format may change and would look different when your recruiters receive them.

💡 Avoid redundant layout or design (i.e. tables, progress bar, graphics, etc.)

Putting too much layout or design on your resume might look really confusing to your hiring manager. They would not be able to see the crucial information properly. Hence, your resume may have a chance to be neglected.

💡 Run your resume through ATS friendly resume checker.

Check it before you hand it in! There are a lot of ATS resume checkers online that you could find. If you’re still looking for one, let us give you some recommendations!

Free ATS-Friendly Resume Checkers & Builders

Here are some free ATS-friendly resume testers and builders that are recommended:

1. CakeResume


  • Free
  • Contain various ATS-compliant resume templates
  • Have different examples to refer from


  • Takes 15-30 seconds to scan the resume

2. Jobscan


  • You can check your resume online
  • Can upload resume by word & PDF
  • Free:
    • 5 scans
    • 2 scans - match rate calculations & keyword comparisons /month


  • Get additional free scans only by referring your friends
  • Subscription: $49.95/month or $89.95/3months 

3. Resume Worded


  • Is an online checker
  • Get a LinkedIn checker for paid customers


  • Most tools are effective only for paid customers
  • Subscription: $49/month or $99.99/3months or $229/year 

ATS-Friendly Resume Templates & Examples

Take a look at this SEO specialist ATS-friendly resume template and sample:

Ana Robertson

Experienced SEO specialist.

Mobile: (+1)000-2352
Email: [email protected]

An SEO specialist of  8+ years experience. Great decision-making skills and earned a 29% increase in leading an eCommerce brand. And is looking forward to applying knowledge of SEO project management and analysis skills to improving organic searches.


SEO Senior Specialist | ZYX
02/2017 to present

  • Improved website ranking to top 5 for 10+ volume keywords
  • Led a team increased organic traffic with 36% growth

SEO Specialist | ABC
07/2013 to 01/2017

  • Reduced the bounce rate by 18%
  • Crafted 30+ SEO campaign websites with media and structures


University of California, Los Angeles

B.A in Communication

GPA: 3.76/4.3


  • Hard Skills: SEO editing skills, HTML, Javascript, Copywriting skills, CSS
  • Soft Skills: data-driven, analytical skills, critical thinking skills, communication


Black Friday Shopping Fest

  • Successfully increased 14% organic traffic compared to last year
  • Designed advertising campaigns and earned a 25% growth in sales

Blog Setup

  • Maintained a network of 350+ WordPress blogs
  • Acquired a 15% monthly growth in traffics and impressions
ATS-friendly Resume Example
Created using CakeResume

CakeResume provides the best resume making tools & templates to help you create the perfect resume for your job hunt. Take your career journey to new heights - create a resume online (free download) now! 

--- Originally written by Eliana Tschang ---

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