Workwrite Resumes

Beat the Applicant Tracking System: Match the job description

job description and resume

Matching your resume content to the job description of the position you can desire can increase your chances of success when applying online

Applicant Tracking Systems rule the world when you’re applying for jobs online. (Applying online gives you about a 10% chance of success for your efforts and pits you against many, many competitors. On average, 144 people apply for an entry-level position, 89 for a professional level job. Google, for example, receives 75,000 applications a week. Read more ATS statistics in this infographic.)

>>>Find out about more effective job search strategies here: Reach the Hidden Job Market: Why clicking the apply button isn’t enough.

But you may run across that dream job that you can’t resist applying for, even if it is at Google and there are 74,999 other people applying for it.

First, read these hints about revising your job search strategy.

Second, read how to format your resume.

Third, and this is the one most people won’t do: Revise your resume to fit the job description.

I don’t mean add a couple of keywords and call it good. That might get you to 72,000th place at Google.

You need to analyze the job description to find out exactly what the employer is looking for. Then, make sure you really qualify for this position:

  • Do you have all of the required knowledge and skills?
  • Do you have several if not all of the preferred experience?
  • Can you give solid examples of all of that experience?

If not, you may need to pass on this job.

Match the job description

If you decide to go ahead with the application, write down the key words and phrases for the industry-specific tasks in the job.

Now, group and pare down that list so it reads like a list of skills. Here is one from  a transportation logistics manager job description:

  • Financial Management
  • Warehouse Knowledge
  • Transportation Knowledge
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Business Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Project Management
  • Quality Management
  • HR Technical Skills
  • HR Business Integration
  • Computer Skills
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Change Management
  • Employee Development
  • Problem Resolution
  • Teamwork & Collaboration
  • Customer Relationship

These are the items important to this employer. They are your focus. Use one of them to head each bullet item in your Work Experience section. A bullet item might look like this:

  • Financial Management: Oversaw $1.2 million budget with P&L responsibility, cutting departmental costs 14% in first fiscal year of tenure.

If you don’t have experience already listed in your resume for “Employee Development,” for example, think back over your experience for an accomplishment in that area. Add it to that position in the Work Experience section of your resume.

Match the language

Notice the word choice of the job posting. If the description mentions “logistics” and “transportation” rather than “planning” and “product transport” as you had in your original resume, use the terms found in the job posting.

Now, your information is organized according to the employer’s system and language. As a result, their ATS sees the company priorities in your resume.

This is time-consuming and meticulous work, which is why most people don’t do it. If you do, you’re boosting your chances of success.

I still don’t recommend spending a lot of time applying online, but if you decide to do it, this is the way to go.



Change your job search strategy to beat the Applicant Tracking Systems

Format your resume to beat the Applicant Tracking Systems



  1. Great article, quite informative. I also found another really great website called http://www.jobscan.co that will help you get your resume noticed and get you past the ATS plus it only takes a few seconds. Worked for me and I got many more interviews because of jobscan. I definitely recommend the website to anyone who is looking for a job or preparing their resume. Good luck on the job hunt and the resume!

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