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How To Pass Application Tracking Systems (ATS) & Get Interviews - Resume Tips for Software Developer

Did you know that not all resumes are created equal? Do you think that an actual person sits down and looks through every resume that gets submitted?

That's what I thought until I started to do some research.

Are you spamming your resume all over the place and not getting any responses?

Here's why: There's this thing called an Application Tracking System.

There are so many applications coming into these companies that recruiters can't keep up. So your resume is most likely getting passed through an ATS before it ever gets seen by any human.

In this article, I am going to tell you all about Application Tracking Systems and how you can get your resume past them.

What is an ATS (Application Tracking System)

Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google, and just about every large company uses an Application Tracking System. It's software that parses, or scrapes, your resume and helps recruiters and hiring managers to organize and manage applicants.

Sounds like a good thing.

But it also filters out what it thinks are unqualified applicants. In fact, more than 75% of applications get discarded before getting to recruiters.

And you could get filtered out even if you are qualified. Let me tell you why.

But really quick, if you don't want to worry about application tracking systems and ensure that you get an interview, check out Paper Moon and use the promo code "STACKR" to get 20% off their Resume Template Kit.

There are several different Application Tracking Systems that are used. A few of the top ones are Taleo, Workday, and Greenhouse.

The ATS parses, or scrapes, your resume and stores what it deems as relevant data in a database. That data can then be used to figure out what your qualifications, work experience, and skills are.


Some systems even give applicants a ranking score. They attempt to compare your resume to the job description and rank how qualified it thinks you are. The recruiter will then use those rankings to make decisions on who to interview.

It uses something called Natural Language Processing to figure this out.


Another way the data can be used is by searching for applicants based on keywords. If certain keywords are missing from your resume, your name's not going to pop up.

Also, the amount of times a keyword appears on your resume is important. Important keywords should appear on your resume 2 to 3 times. This will rank you higher for those keywords.

Of course, make sure that the placement of the keywords make sense, because once you get past the ATS your resume will be read by a human.

How do you know what keywords to use? The easiest way is by using a word cloud.

So I went to and picked a random JavaScript posting. Then I selected all of the details and copied that.

Next, I went to a word cloud generator and I pasted in that job description.

Word Cloud

Now you can see easily pick out the main keywords for this job posting and customize your resume to match, where applicable.


Another issue with resumes is the way their formatted. Every resume is formatted differently. If your resume is really fancy with tables, graphs, and images, the ATS may misinterpret the information and miscategorize your data. Or worse, deem you as unqualified from a position that you are qualified for.

Headers and Footers

Application Tracking Systems cannot see information in headers and footers. So never put important information in these sections. Or just don't use them.

If you do use headers and footers, you could include images or graphics that you want humans to see. But definitely not necessary.


Dates are another issue. Again, assume that humans are not reading your resume. The system needs to understand it. So be sure to include timeframes for your job experience. Use year and month formats.

Special Characters

Special characters can also cause problems for the ATS. This can include accents. So if your name is Mathéo, it might get parsed as Mathéo.

So just avoid using special characters.

How can you ensure that you get past the system?

  • You need to make sure that your resume contains keywords found in the job description. As long as they align with the truth. Don't lie about anything.

  • Include the top keywords 2 to 3 times.

So you really need to customize, or tune, each resume to align with the job description of the position you are applying for.

This is for sure going to take more time but you will be more likely to pass the ATS.

  • If you use acronyms, be sure to include the long version, then the acronym in parenthesis.

Example: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • Don't use tables or crazy graphics or fancy fonts. This could confuse the ATS.

  • Don't use headers and footers. That information may not get parsed correctly.

  • And save your resume as either a .doc or .docx if possible. That will help the parser.

ATS Checker

Now, if you want to see how your resume will do in an ATS, go to You can upload your resume and the job description, then it will scan your resume and give you a score and feedback.

This is a great tool.

Guaranteed To Pass ATS

If you don't want to worry about application tracking systems and ensure that you get an interview, use the Paper Moon's CS Resume Template Kit.

The first 200 that use the promo code "STACKR" will get 20% off their Resume Bundle.

Paper Moon CS Resume Template Kit

Paper Moon has proven ATS filter passing resumes. You're going to get perfectly formatted, clean resumes. Over 100 technical recruiters have recommended this company.

You'll also get access to examples of actual resumes that have landed top tech interviews to find out exactly what recruiters want to see. These have landed interviews at Google, Facebook, Netflix, Microsoft, Airbnb, Amazon, and so many more top tech companies.

You'll also get exclusive access to a recruiter contact list. This list has over 1000 technical recruiters at all of the top tech companies.

That's not it, you'll also get a Job Application Tracking Sheet, and lifetime free updates.

I think that this product is well worth the money and that's why I've partnered with Paper Moon.

So be sure to check that out.

And give me some feedback. If you receive an interview after using this product, let me know.

Watch the full video here:

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Thanks for reading!

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Top comments (1)

ilyamarkin profile image
Ilya Markin

Interesting post, keep it up!
Here is also a useful post for beginners, more on the ATS development aspect and examples of better ATSs.