Published on

Resume Tailoring: Beat the ATS and Land Your Dream Job


In today's competitive job market, simply submitting a generic resume isn't enough. To stand out and secure an interview, your resume must not only catch the eye of human recruiters but also navigate through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These systems filter resumes based on specific criteria before a human ever sees them. Here’s how you can tailor your resume to match job requirements and get past ATS systems, increasing your chances of landing your dream job.

Understanding Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Applicant Tracking Systems are software tools used by companies to streamline the hiring process. They scan, sort, and rank resumes based on keywords, skills, former employers, schools, and other relevant criteria. Understanding how these systems work is the first step in tailoring your resume effectively.

Analyze the Job Description

Start by thoroughly reading the job description. Identify the skills, experiences, and keywords that are emphasized. These are the attributes the ATS, and ultimately the employer, is looking for. Make a list of these keywords, focusing on specific skills, tools, technologies, and qualifications.

Customize Your Resume for Each Job

  • Keywords and Phrases: Incorporate the keywords and phrases you identified from the job description into your resume. Use them in the context of your achievements and responsibilities. Be honest and only include skills and experiences you possess.
  • Skills Section: Tailor the skills section of your resume to mirror the job description closely. Prioritize the placement of the most relevant skills.
  • Experience and Achievements: For each role you’ve held, highlight accomplishments and duties that align with the job you’re applying for. Use action verbs and quantify your achievements where possible.
  • Format and Compatibility: Use a clean, straightforward format that is ATS-friendly. Avoid headers and footers, graphics, and tables, as these can confuse the ATS. Stick to standard resume fonts like Arial or Times New Roman.

Beyond Keywords: Context Matters

While keywords are crucial, how you present them within the context of your achievements can make a significant difference. Instead of merely listing skills, weave them into descriptions of your work experience and accomplishments. This not only helps with ATS but also shows potential employers how you’ve applied your skills.

Cover Letter: Your Secret Weapon

Use your cover letter to further tailor your application. While not all ATS systems scan cover letters, many recruiters read them. A well-crafted cover letter that echoes the job description can strengthen your candidacy.

Test Your Resume

Before submitting, test your resume’s ATS compatibility. Several online tools allow you to match your resume against a job description to see how well it performs. Use the feedback to make any necessary adjustments.

Keep Learning and Updating

The job market and ATS algorithms evolve, so continuously refine your resume. Stay informed about industry trends and required skills within your field.


Tailoring your resume for each application might seem daunting, but it’s a critical step in modern job hunting. By customizing your resume to match job requirements and optimizing it for ATS, you significantly increase your chances of making it to the interview stage. Remember, your resume is your first impression—make it count. With these strategies, you’re not just submitting an application; you’re launching a targeted campaign to secure your next great opportunity.

First 2 Apply supports your job search journey by alerting you to new opportunities that match your profile, giving you more time to focus on crafting winning resumes and cover letters. Embrace the future of job hunting with First 2 Apply, and take the first step towards landing your dream job today.