career-advice

ATS Resume Keyword Optimization Tool

Matt Glodz
ATS Resume Keyword Optimization Tool

How to Keyword Optimize Your Resume for Applicant Tracking Systems & Tailor Your Resume to Specific Jobs

Jobscan's ATS research study revealed that 98.8% of Fortune 500 companies use applicant tracking systems.

As a result, keyword optimization is now an important strategy to keep in mind when updating your resume - especially if you are applying for jobs at large corporations that receive high application volumes.

You may have heard about the importance of keyword optimizing your resume for applicant tracking systems, or ATS, but how exactly should you go about doing so?

In this article, we provide:

  • A free resume optimization tool to help you conduct a gap analysis on missing keywords
  • A simple ATS optimization checklist that outlines key factors to pay attention to when preparing your resume
  • An example of how to keyword optimize your resume to align your document with the requirements of a specific job posting

      Resume Keyword Optimization Tool

      The tool below will help you assess whether your resume effectively incorporates the target keywords recruiters may be searching for when filtering applications using applicant tracking systems, or ATS.

      If you are unfamiliar with how an ATS works, we encourage you to read this article, which explains how recruiters interact with these systems in more detail.

      To use the Jobscan tool, copy and paste your current resume and the job description for the role you are targeting into the boxes below.

      The tool will analyze your resume and provide a percentage match score to give you a benchmark of whether your document is sufficiently tailored to your target role.

      However, don’t get caught up in achieving a perfect score!

      Once you receive your results, review 4 the key areas of feedback we recommend paying close attention to below.

      1. ATS Findings

      Under the ATS Findings section, ensure that your Education, Section Headings, and Date Formatting align with the requirements provided.

      While some of these checks do not affect your percentage match score, they ensure your resume will be correctly imported into an ATS.

      2. Recruiter Findings

      Although keyword optimizing your resume is important, your resume also needs to leave an impression on the recruiter or hiring manager who manually reviews it.

      Use the Measurable Results section to benchmark whether you are incorporating enough metrics into your resume. You can also use our resume metrics tool to dive into this category in more detail and brainstorm additional ways to showcase the tangible impact you made in each role.

      We also recommend carefully reviewing the Words to Avoid section, which outlines overused terminology and resume clichés that make recruiters cringe.

      3. Hard Skills

      Most often, when recruiters screen applications using an ATS, they search for hard skills that are explicitly mentioned in the job description.

      If you find that your score is low and agree with the scan's outcome, you'll learn how to naturally incorporate additional keywords in the example provided below.

      Remember that while you want to effectively optimize your resume for applicant tracking systems, your resume still needs to read naturally and be truthful.

      At one point or another, a human will read it, and "keyword stuffing" is very easy to detect.

      4. Soft Skills

      Although soft skills are a factor that will result in a higher percentage match when using Jobscan’s tool, we don't recommend explicitly mentioning soft skills on your resume.

      Soft skills such as the following are best communicated during the interview or by providing specific examples of how you applied them on the job:

      • Effective communicator
      • Strong team player
      • Results-oriented executive
      • Excels in high-pressure situations
      • Proven ability to negotiate
      • Adaptable, driven, and motivated leader

      Without specific evidence to back them up, such phrases can come off as empty buzzwords!

      ATS Optimization Checklist

      The checklist below outlines key strategies that will ensure your resume’s content gets imported into an applicant tracking system correctly:

      • Keeping your formatting simple (avoid any gimmicks)
      • Using conventional section titles
      • Aligning your content with the requirements on the job description

      ATS Optimization Checklist

      Note that if you are a senior executive, making sure that your resume meets all of these requirements becomes less critical, as:

      • You'll be competing against a smaller number of applicants
      • You may be working with a recruiter, who will ensure your resume gets into the right hands

      How to Tailor Your Resume to a Job (Example)

      One of the easiest ways to optimize your resume is to read the job description, identify relevant keywords, and naturally incorporate them into your document.

      Let's look at a practical example to help you understand how to do so.

      Below, we'll analyze two documents:

      • A job description for a hotel development posting
      • A sample resume tailored to that posting

      Step 1: We started by highlighting the most important responsibilities of the role and the required skills that we would like to mention on the resume.

      When reading the job description, focus on two key sections:

      • Key Responsibilities
      • Requirements

      More specifically, pay attention to hard skills and industry terminology.

      We evaluated a job description for a Head of Hotel Development position with Sonder and highlighted key terms that would be worth incorporating into the resume.

      Incorporate Keywords into Your Resume

      How to Optimize Your Resume for ATS

      We encourage you to follow a similar approach.

      To make the process easier, simply print out the job description on paper and grab a highlighter!


      Step 2: We incorporated keywords related to those we identified in the job description.

      Now that we identified key terms, we added them to the resume.

      In doing so, we made sure to:

      • Incorporate a few keywords that were exact matches in a natural manner to avoid the perception of keyword stuffing
      • Include similar terminology that wasn't explicitly provided in the job description
      • Avoid directly copying and pasting long phrases from the job description
      • Avoid discussing any experience that the candidate didn't have just for the sake of "optimizing" the resume

      We highlighted the key terms on the resume below.

      How to Optimize Your Resume for ATS

      In Summary

      In today's hiring environment, recruiters are increasingly overwhelmed with high application volumes, and applicant tracking systems help bring order to the chaos.

      By taking intentional steps to keyword optimize your resume, you'll help it pass initial scans and get into the hands of a recruiter.

      That said, be conscious not to over-optimize by focusing too much on keywords and not enough on human readability.

      Also, remember that the most effective ways of finding a job involve networking and human interaction.


      About Resume Pilots

      Resume Pilots is an award-winning executive resume writing firm and a proud member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. Our previous clients include CEOs and senior executives at the world's leading companies.

      As a professional services firm, we take your reputation seriously. We are committed to delivering writing excellence and superior service while operating with integrity and discretion. Recruitment firms we partner with also trust us to consistently deliver quality documents for their clients.

      Our writers have studied in the Ivy League and other top-tier universities and have strong writing backgrounds coupled with industry experience.

      Here's how we can help you:

      Resume, Cover Letter, and LinkedIn Writing Services: If you are looking for end-to-end support, hire one of our professional resume writers to rewrite your documents from the ground up.

      Executive Resume Template Downloads: If you plan to prepare your own resume, consider using one of our classic, ATS-friendly resume templates for Microsoft Word.

      To learn more about our services, book an introductory call with our founder here or email team@resumepilots.com.


      About the AuthorMatt Glodz


      Matt Glodz is the Founder and Managing Partner of Resume Pilots and a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

      After studying business communication at Cornell University, Matt worked within Fortune 500 companies, where he noted that qualified candidates were frequently denied interview opportunities due to poorly written documents.

      At Resume Pilots, Matt combines his business and writing background - which includes prior work for a Chicago Tribune publication - to craft resumes that give his clients the best chance of landing interviews. He works with clients ranging from CEOs to recent graduates and has been writing resumes for over 10 years.

      He has been quoted on numerous business and career-related topics in outlets including Business Insider, CNBC, Fortune, Glassdoor, The Ladders, and Thrive Global.


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