Ask Vicki: What are some tips to pass the ATS resume test?

In this answer on Quora, Monster career expert Vicki Salemi details how to craft the perfect resume for recruiters ... and robots.

Ask Vicki: What are some tips to pass the ATS resume test?

How to write a resume that gets past the robots.

Q. What are some tips to pass the ATS resume test?

A. First, let me explain what ATS is. ATS, short for applicant tracking system, is a software program that scans all the words in your resume and applies an algorithm to search for keywords to determine if you are an appropriate candidate for the job in question. It's super-important to have an ATS-compliant resume if you want to pass this initial screening.

Not every company will use a resume keyword scanner to see if you're a good fit for a job. For instance, when you fill out a job application online, chances are it’s going to land in a box specific to that job requisition. So there’s nothing special you need to do to stand out, because your resume is linked to the job requisition in the applicant tracking system.

That said, if a job posting requires you to email your resume, it may be uploaded separately (depending on a variety of factors like the type of applicant tracking system or if it’s an employee referral), not directly, to a specific job opening, and placed into the company's database. In that case, you’ll need to be specific with words so your resume appears in the various keyword searches recruiters conduct.

Having been a corporate recruiter, I typically typed various words within specific searches to mine the database of valuable resumes. For instance, if you’re pursuing a recruiting opportunity, your resume should use a variety of keywords such as “recruiting,” “recruiter,” “talent acquisition,” and more. Since you never know what words recruiters will use to search, rely on a variety that are related to your profession to help you pass the ATS resume test. 

Another great tip for how to beat the applicant tracking system: Refer to the prospective employer’s job description you’re pursuing. If they use specific words or phrases to represent a skill and or type of project experience they’re seeking, use those same precise words within your resume. The ATS resume scanner is programmed to find specific words on all the resumes in the company database.

For example, if the job description seeks someone with "extensive experience working with Software A in a fast-paced environment," put that same exact phrase in your resume. Don't just say you have "working knowledge of popular software programs in a busy company." Or if the job description says a requirement is "knowledge of hip-hop music history," you should write that same phrase on your resume, rather than "music expert" or something like that. It's key to use the same words and phrases that you see in the job description.

These are some great ideas for how to pass the ATS resume test, but it's the tip of the job search iceberg. Could you use some more help getting noticed? Join Monster for free todayAs a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads. 

Monster’s career expert Vicki Salemi—a former recruiter who utilizes 15-plus years of experience in recruiting and human resources to empower job seekers—answers user questions on Quora. Read Vicki Salemi's answer to "How do I make a resume so that an applicant tracking system identifies my skills and projects in the resume?" on Quora.