The Latest About ATSs (Applicant Tracking Systems) and Your Resume

Most ATSs (Applicant Tracking System) work by analyzing the HTML behind the content in your Word resume. (That’s one reason I strongly urge people to NOT use any kind of "resume template", but that’s another topic for another time.)

It used to be that any aberration in the code, such as a page break or image or table, would not only make the employer’s ATS system freak out, it would reject your resume altogether. And you’d never know.

Over time, however, ATSs no longer freak out. They still will not read those parts of the resume, but now they don’t dump the whole resume like they used to, in most cases. So it will ignore an image, like a bar chart, in your resume instead of ignoring the whole resume. (Tip: be sure to include narrative of that bar chart, telling us what’s in it, in American English.)

For those who obsess over keywords they "must" use in their resume, and obsess over having an ultimate ATS-friendly resume, I say "Good to try to be 'matchy-matchy' but instead, NETWORK with others at companies that interest you so you can be nominated by them to 'get inside'."

Over the years, THAT’S the approach I’ve seen work, Internet or no internet, ATSs or no ATSs. 

For much more from Joanne on Applicant Tracking Systems, see her videos on YouTube. And see her other career guidance in her newsletter here on this site, and in,, and LinkedIn 


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