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5 Ways to Bypass the ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) When Writing Your Resume

You find a position you want to apply for, you complete the application, attach your resume, and hit submit. But where does your application go? Did the employer receive it? Is there an actual human being laying eyes on your resume as you eagerly anticipate a response? These are all questions that deserve an answer. And rightfully so, you spent a great deal of time crafting a good resume.

Meet the software system created to filter out unqualified candidates and save companies valuable time and resources: ATS or automated tracking systems. The ATS may be synonymous to the application abyss and the culprit for why you’re not hearing back from prospective employers.

If you’re applying to jobs and leaving out the proper keywords, missing important criteria, or using a resume format that is less than ideal, the ATS will discard your resume. Unfortunately, so many nurse practitioners get stuck in this phase of the job search and have difficulty getting out.

While not every employer automates the initial phase of hiring a qualified candidate, many larger organizations do so solely based on the high volume of applications received. In fact, there could be hundreds of applicants per position, especially for those highly-coveted positions listed in well-known job boards.

The job of ATS is to simplify the search and match top talent.

Here are 5 things to avoid to move past the ATS and move forward in the hiring process:


1. Avoid pictures, graphs, tables, or charts.

Modern style resumes may have sections to show relevant skills or criteria using graphs. Many ATS however are unable to translate this information. Which means, your resume will get lost. Instead write out your skills in a dedicated section of the resume.


2. Avoid fancy fonts.

Adding bold face to fonts is appropriate to highlight resume sections. And using 2-3 different fonts within your resume can add visual interest to the overall aesthetics. Arial and Times New Roman are safe fonts recognized by the ATS. Manuscript or cursive-type fonts are best left off your resume.


3. Avoid vague descriptions.

In your bullets and professional summary, aim to be clear, informative, and succinct. Details help distinguish you from other applicants. Use it to your advantage.


4. Avoid using the header and footer for critical information.

Chances are that ATS don’t pick up any information within the top and bottom most portions of your resume. So aim to keep the meat and potatoes of your resume within the margins for a better chance of beating the system.


5. Avoid acronyms.

As nurses, we have our own language and can speak fluently using only acronyms. But the ATS may be foreign to all the abbreviations within our speciality. It’s best to write out any certifications or titles especially if it’s a criteria listed within the application.

If you need more help landing your first or next NP job, consider the program, the Job Offer Generator.


About the Author

Josie Tate is a successful nurse practitioner, visionary nurse leader, and inspirational career mentor. She is the creator of Clincepts, a professional development resource that helps bridge the gap for nurses transitioning into advanced practice.

Nurse practitioners across the industry get and stay happily hired using strategies from Josie’s proven framework. At its core, Clincepts empowers and equips nurse practitioners to stand out, shine bright, and speak up as the best candidates for the job.

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