ATS Best Practices

Youโ€™re reading an excerpt of Admitted by Soundarya Balasubramani. Written by an Ivy League graduate from India, this is the proven guide for students worldwide looking to pursue undergraduate or graduate study abroad in the U.S., Canada, or Europe. Purchase for instant access to the guide and other exclusive resourcesโ€”including sample SOPs, sample resumes, scholarship lists, and a private community with other readers.

Given how pervasive ATS software has become, itโ€™s highly recommended that you follow the doโ€™s and donโ€™ts laid out below:*

  • Do have long-form and acronym versions of keywords (e.g., Master of Science [MS] or Machine Learning (ML] for maximum searchability).

  • Do use traditional resume fonts such as Helvetica, Arial, or Georgia.

  • Do use standard resume section headings (e.g., Work Experience, Education, Leadership Experience, etc.).

  • Donโ€™t use headers or footers as the information might get lost or cause a parsing error.

  • Donโ€™t use tables or columns as they often cause a parsing error.

  • Donโ€™t save your resume in formats other than .docx or .pdf.

Most importantly, when you begin applying for a job or internship, plug in keywords relevant to the role so the software can pick up on it.*

ATS might have made your job harder by making you more mindful of the content. However, you can use this knowledge to be smarter and reverse engineer it.

Let Software Do the Work

Now, if youโ€™re wondering, is there not a tool that does part of the work for me?

The answer is a resounding yes!

Although we recommend crafting the resume yourself to get experience with LaTeX, you can use a tool that will simply take the input and spit out an ATS-friendly, good-looking resume. One such tool is ResumePuppy.* It was founded by Saiman Shetty,* an Einstein Visa recipient and a veteran product manager from Tesla and Lyft, and Anish Hegde,* another product expert from Yahoo and Signeasy. ResumePuppy is similar to Overleaf in its functionality, but has a more user-friendly interface.

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