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How to Write an ATS Resume? Templates & Writing Tips

How to Write an ATS Resume? Templates & Writing Tips

Learn to beat the screening filters using an ATS resume. Grab an ATS-resume template from our collection or learn to create an ATS-friendly resume format from scratch.

As seen in:

Most recruiters use ATS systems these days. But how do you make your resume ATS-friendly to get to the oh-so-desired interviewing stage? Which ATS resume template should you use to ensure it’s still a great read for the actual human recruiter? We have the answers.


This article will show you:

  • What is an ATS resume and how you can create one.
  • How to optimize your application to turn it into an ATS-friendly resume.
  • Examples of ATS resume templates you can use to save time.
  • Top tips to make your resume pass ATS scanners in 2023.


Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get ready-made content to add with one click. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here.


Create your resume now


Sample resume made with our builder—See more resume example here.


Before making an ATS resume, you need to know the fundamentals of resume writing:


If you know the basics, continue reading to learn advanced tips on making an ATS-friendly resume:


What Is an ATS Resume Format?

An ATS resume is a document created in a way that lets the applicant tracking system parse the application with ease. The formatting is simple and easy to scan. ATS-friendly resumes include keywords that match the job ad and highlight relevant work experience and professional skills. 


An ATS is a tool for recruiters, so why should you bother?


If your resume doesn't play well with applicant tracking systems, it'll never get through to the human recruiter. It'll only end up in the recruitment black hole for all eternity.


As we learned behind-the-scenes from Courtney Moran, Senior Research Analyst at G2: 

According to our research, 83% of customers using ATS software said they are likely to recommend it to other professionals.
Courtney MoranCourtney MoranSenior Research Analyst at G2

That's right. Employers love this software. 


How Does an ATS Resume Scanner Work?


ATS checkers score candidates’ resumes according to certain preset criteria. They show the recruiter which candidates are the best fit for the advertised position.


A knockout question could be something like: “How many years of PM work experience do you have?” If the answer is set to five, the system will either automatically reject anything that’s below that number or lower your candidate scoring.


ATS Resume Template


Let’s say it again: ATS checkers must be able to read your resume. If the content of your resume is ATS-friendly, but the template isn’t scannable, your resume will fail the ATS screening anyway. 


What does it mean exactly? That picking an ATS-friendly resume template is as important as completing it.


Here are examples of what your ATS-friendly resume template could look like:





This ATS-friendly resume template has a classic one-column resume layout. What makes this resume stand out is the addition of modern resume icons that decorate each heading.





This ATS resume template combines a minimalist look with the style of an infographic resume. It features a timeline that connects various dates and resume entries.





This is one of our most popular ATS resume templates. It's a two-column resume with a full-color sidebar on the right. You can personalize it by adjusting colors and fonts to your liking.





Another two-column ATS-friendly template, but this time with plenty of white space. This minimalist resume template is great for IT professionals.





Do you prefer unique resume templates? Then this one is a great fit for you. It combines a contemporary vibe with all the elements of an ATS resume template. 


The ATS resume formats above are only a few examples out of 18 other 100% ATS-compliant templates you can find in our resume builder. The best part? You can switch between the ATS-optimized resume templates with a single click to find the one you like best.


But, uhm, having an ATS-compliant template is one thing. Having an effective resume template is another. With ours, you have it all.


And the below example explains what I mean by that:


ATS-Friendly Resume Template—Example



Why is this ATS resume template effective? Here's why:



The main difference between an ATS-friendly resume and a generic resume? An ATS resume is always targeted at a specific job opening. If the job description clearly states that certain skills or qualifications are sought after, and you happen to have those, they should end up in an appropriate section of your resume. Just like you see in the example above.


When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building a professional resume template here for free.

When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and our resume checker will tell you exactly how to make it better.

How to Make an ATS Resume Format from Scratch?

Listen: The perfect ATS resume doesn’t exist. Why? Because you can never be sure how the recruiter set up the system. That being said, you can prepare an ATS-friendly resume to boost your chances!


Here’s how to make an ATS-friendly resume step by step:

1. Understand the Job Requirements


You should treat the job description in the job posting as a benchmark for your application documents. You won’t know how the recruiter set up the ATS checker, but you can make informed guesses on the basis of requirements specified in the ad.


2. Tailor Your ATS Resume


Tailoring your resume to the job offer is crucial.That’s the best you can do to get invited to an interview. If you send a generic resume that doesn’t have much to do with the job offer itself, your chances of succeeding are close to zero. The following points specify what you can do.


3. Use an ATS-Friendly Resume Template


Find a blank resume template that’s been optimized for ATS resume scanners. How to identify one? It should be easy on graphical elements. If it’s a PDF, you should be able to copy the text and paste it into a blank document.


4. Choose the Right Resume Format


There are three main resume formats: chronological resume, functional resume, and combination resume. Of the three, the chronological resume is your safest bet as no ATS will have problems reading it.


5. Use ATS-Friendly Resume Fonts


The best resume fonts are the ones that are readable to humans and machines alike. Choose simple, professional-looking fonts for your resume.


6. Label Resume Sections with Headings


The resume section headings must be easy to navigate. First of all, a resume ATS checker will surely know where you described your experience on a resume if you label the section Experience rather than Things I Am Proud Of. Second of all, a recruiter will only spend 6 seconds scanning your resume, so don't confuse them about your resume education section by calling it What Made Me Into Who I Am. 


7. Use ATS Resume Keywords


Using the right resume keywords is essential. Take a good look at the phrasing, and describe your experience using the language of the job posting. For example, if the employer is looking for a team-player, describe yourself as one. If you keep describing your teamwork skills as being collaborative and miss out the team-player keyword entirely, chances are the ATS resume test will miss it too.


8. Choose the Right Skills for the Position


Putting the right skills on your resume will surely show the ATS you deserve a high candidate score. Again, you can use synonyms (collaboration or teamwork), but try to include the original wording at least once, just to be sure. Plus, if your resume goes past the ATS scan, the recruiter will also get to see you’re perfectly qualified to get the job done.


9. Have the Recruiter in the Back of Your Mind


Once you focus on optimizing your resume for the ATS scan, it’s easy to forget you’re doing all this so that a human will have a chance to read it. Make sure your resume profile and all the other sections read well and impress the recruiter with the achievements you put on your resume.


If you follow the steps above your resume will be 100% ATS-compliant.



Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:


See more cover letter templates and start writing.


Key Takeaways


Here’s all you need to remember about making the ATS resume:


  • The ATS (Applicant Tracking System) helps the recruiters manage recruitment processes by identifying qualified candidates.
  • The ATS scans resumes, and scores them according to the criteria pre-set by the recruiter.
  • Even though you can never know what criteria a recruiter chose, you can treat a job offer as a benchmark for your resume.
  • A good ATS resume should always be tailored to the position you’re seeking and use an ATS-friendly resume template.


Do you have any questions about creating an ATS compliant resume? Or maybe you’d like to share your tips on passing the ATS resume test? We’d love to hear from you. Give us a shout out in the comments below.


About Zety’s Editorial Process


This article has been reviewed by our editorial team to make sure it follows Zety's editorial guidelines. We’re committed to sharing our expertise and giving you trustworthy career advice tailored to your needs. High-quality content is what brings over 40 million readers to our site every year. But we don't stop there. Our team conducts original research to understand the job market better, and we pride ourselves on being quoted by top universities and prime media outlets from around the world.


Frequently Asked Questions about ATS Resume


What is Applicant Tracking Software (ATS)?

The ATS is a software application that helps companies with the recruitment and hiring process. What’s important for you to know is that once you apply for a job, the software scans your application documents for keywords. It’ll look for relevant information on skills, work experience, and education, defined by the requirements (and even nice-to-haves) in the job description. If you’re successful, your resume will land on your recruiter’s desk.


What is the best resume format for ATS?

The best resume format for ATS is the reverse chronological format, without a doubt. The software can read it easily as it focuses on the most important bit—your work experience. It’s where the most resume keywords lay.


How do I make an ATS-friendly resume?

  1. Avoid creating a generic resume. Reply to a specific job with your application.
  2. Pick an ATS-friendly resume template that goes easy on the graphics and uses a legible font. 
  3. Go for the reverse chronological resume format.
  4. Tailor your resume to the job description. Use achievements statements with keywords, both long-form and acronyms, that respond to the requirements.
  5. Create standard resume section headings. 
  6. Get rid of headers and footers.
  7. Don’t use tables or any complex formatting.
  8. Save your resume file in .docx or PDF depending on what the recruiter asks for.


Are Google Docs or Microsoft resume templates ATS friendly?

Not all Google Docs resume templates and Microsoft Word resume templates are ATS compliant, especially if you save them as an image. But you can very easily verify if your template is parsable by copying and pasting the contents into the notepad app. If you see gibberish, it means the resume template hasn’t been designed with the ATS in mind.

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Dominika Kowalska, CPRW
Dominika is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and job expert with a focus on career development and onboarding processes. She writes guides helping readers create winning resumes and manage various difficulties of the job hunt.

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