ATS Resume Scanners: How They Work, and 4 Tips to Beat Them in 2024

January 03, 2024


To get a job in 2024, you must know how to pass an automated test system or ATS scanner. Also known as resume scanners, these machines pick your resume for recruiters to read.

In fact, an estimated 45% to 75% of companies use ATS Scanners. Worryingly, 50% to 75% of job applications can be rejected by these resume scanners!

With such a high rejection rate, how do you beat these automated machines and produce an ATS-Friendly Resume?

This article will go over some basics on what ATS scanners are and how they work. We will then move on to situational examples of beating them and tips to help you blaze your way through them! 

This article will cover:

  • What is an ATS Scanner
  • Why Recruiters use ATS Resume Scaners
  • How ATS Scanners Work
  • How to Beat Resume Scanners (5 Strategies)

But before we get started, let’s discuss the history of these scanners. 

What are ATS Scanners?

ATS Scanners are pieces of software that sift through resumes, manage interview schedules, analyse recruitment metrics, and eliminate job applicants.

Applicant Testing Services began as an actual physical location where potential employees would take tests, specifically multiple-choice tests. Now, testing services have been transformed into internet websites used by employers to screen applicants.

These scanners can be programmed to test a person’s skills in specific areas such as typing speed, maths, grammar, and even personality. Several testing services are available, but the top three most widely used are CareerBuilder, Monster, and Jobscan.

As of today, there has been no conclusive evidence proving that these scanners work in deciding who gets a job offer. However, companies from big corporations to small mom-and-pop shops use them because everyone does, so why would you not do it too? Since these scanners have become popularised over time, secrets on passing them have also surfaced.

Why Recruiters Use ATS Resume Scanners

Resume Scanners are used by recruiters to quickly filter and remove unsuitable candidates.

This helps employers focus purely on the ones who are likely to be the best fit for the role.

The job market is saturated with candidates. Hiring managers now receive dozens… if not hundreds of applications for each role they create.

It’s time-consuming and difficult to sift through every application manually. This requires plenty of resources like time and manpower. Many applications might also not be even relevant to the role they are hiring for.

Resume Scanners ease some of their legwork and simplify the process.

How do ATS Scanners work?

Landing a role today requires you to “beat the resume system”. To do so, you need to understand them.

Resume scanners can be programmed in two different ways:

  1. Keywords
  2. Specific Skills


Keyword Scanners look for specific key phrases within your resume. They construct a ranking system from 1-100 on whether or not you would qualify for the position based on the keywords in your CV.

If you have too many keywords listed, your score might drop drastically, and if there are not enough, your score will rise proportionately.

For example, a job description is looking for the keywords “cross-functional” and “multiple simultaneous projects”. If these keywords did not appear once on your resume; this could bring your inaccuracy up drastically!

Specific Skills

ATS Scanners can also be set up to identify specific skills on your resume. 

For example, if the role is looking for skills like “Customer Service”, it’s critical to include this skill in your CV.

Omitting it could pull down your ATS Score, filtering it out of the application process.

High scoring CVs get viewed by hiring managers, and low scoring CVs end up in the trash!

ResumeWriter Tip: Are you targeting the right keywords for your industry in your resume? Find out with a Complimentary CV Analysis with us!

Beating ATS Scanners: 4 Strategies You Can Use

Now that you know what ATS Scanners are and how they work, how do you beat these resume scanning systems?

There are specific ways to beat these machines and land the interview.

Here are a few tips you can use:

1. Submit Your Resume in PDF Format

This is one of the most popular methods of beating an ATS scanner. 

Most ATS scanners struggle to read .doc or .txt files, especially if the layout messes up after you hit apply.

If you submit your resume in one of those formats, chances are it will be screened out.

Resume Scanners also struggle with reading CVs in fancy or unusual formatting.

They can’t read graphs, are blind to images and cannot detect funky graphics.

This means that if you submit a CV with 95% visuals or infographics, you will only be evaluated on 5% of your experience. Isn’t that a pity?

We suggest sticking to a conventional and easy-to-read resume template

Thankfully, we have over 10 free resume templates for you to download. They are all optimised for ATS.

Check our ATS-friendly CV Templates out today!

2. Use Keyword Phrases in the Job Description

Every job ad is slightly different, and so are ATS Screeners!

So tailor your resume to every single job ad.

For example, if a job description has keywords like “Proficient in image manipulation tools including Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and Canva”, be sure to weave keywords like ”image manipulation tools” and “Adobe Illustrator” into your resume!

Repeat this process for every application.

While your resume may score a high ATS score for one job ad, it might not score as high for the same role with a different company!

You won’t know which ATS Scanning solution a company is using, so it’s good practice to tailor your CV according to that company’s job description.

This helps you maximise your score, and chances of landing that interview.

3. List Your Accomplishments, Not Workscopes.

A high ATS Score shows your credibility and relevance for the role you’ve applied for.

Apart from keywords, you can also use Achievements to show your credibility. Achievements show the scanner (and reader) your experience, instead of merely telling them.

Check out our extensive guide on writing effective Accomplishments in your CV!

4. Weave Keywords into Your CV

As resume scanners detect keywords, many jobseekers have a misguided impression that more keywords mean a higher chance of landing the interview.

The result? They stuff their CV with as many relevant keywords as possible.

We suggest avoiding this, because keyword stuffing can worsen your chances.

You see, keyword stuffing leads to long and convoluted sentences in your CV. Even worse, these sentences may no longer make sense.

Resume scanners are also “smart”. They can detect that a candidate is not a good fit if they decide to stuff keywords blindly.

Thus we suggest to avoid stuffing keywords blindly on your CV. Weave them into your experience instead so they flow naturally.


To sum up, here are the 4 strategies we recommend you follow when writing your CV so it becomes ATS-optimised:

  1. Submit Your Resume in PDF Format
  2. Use Keyword Phrases in the Job Description or Ad
  3. List Accomplishments, Not Workscopes
  4. Avoid Keyword Stuffing; Weave Keywords into Your CV Instead.

When you have a resume that can impress both humans and ATS scanners, you’ll be able to get the job of your dreams. 

If you want an expert opinion before submitting your CV, give us a shout! Our team is always happy to help our clients with their resumes.

ResumeWriter Tip: At ResumeWriter, we’ve helped hundreds of people create cover letters and CVs for any industry or field imaginable. So let’s chat about your CV today!

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