Brilliant job seekers use these 6 tricks to beat the ATS robots

Beat ats

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) help modern companies manage the volume of applications that come through for a job posting, filter out noise, and attach a job match score to every candidate CV that gets filtered through.

Whether or not you are applying to local conglomerates or global organizations, you will find yourself submitting your resume through one of these portals.

This guide doesn’t recommend copying the entire job description into the end of your resume using white font and saving it in PDF format so nobody catches on.

Our goal is to score you an interview and eventually a job offer, not get you pass the ATS filters just to be eliminated by a recruiter who knows better.

If you are indeed a decent fit for the job, and want to maximize your chances of landing an interview fast, read on to find out what we’ve learnt from some of our smartest applicants:

  1. Keep your formatting clean and simple. Forget about using fancy or funky fonts, styles, tables, graphics, icons, or special layouts. The optical character recognition (OCR) software that ATSs use convert your file into text format that allows it to extract relevant information for processing. Make this job ridiculously easy for any ATS.
  2. In the same vein, make sure you upload your CV only in Doc or Docx format, not PDF. ATSs are adept at converting Doc or Docx files, and not as good as doing the same for PDF-formatted resumes especially if the ATS is an older system.

    Feel free to reserve the PDF CV for when you are reaching out directly to recruiters or hiring managers. To play (ultra) safe, use only Doc rather than Docx if you are worried an employer does not have the latest Word version.

  3. All acronyms need to be spelled out. Yes, regardless of how self-evident or obvious you think it is to the reader.
  4. For headings, only use common ones that ATSs are used to filtering for, including the following: ‘Work Experience’, ‘Skills’, ‘Education/Academic Qualifications’. Avoid vocabulary that is full of flair or unconventional.
  5. Feel free to have critical keywords show up on your career summary and key skills. But where it is even more crucial for them to appear is your work experience. ATSs calculate the number of years you’ve spent engaging with a particular skill set (keyword) and gives it higher weightage versus detecting it in any other section of your resume.


  1. Finally, never assume that doing these things will score you an interview instantly. The most effective job seekers are also actively networking all the time.

    When submitting an application, they take the initiative to reach out to existing employees to get referred in, and write directly to recruiters or the hiring team via email or LinkedIn to introduce themselves. They brand themselves in a manner that resonates with the organization.


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