Overcoming Automated Resume Scanners: How Can You Stand Out?

There has been buzz recently surrounding resumes being reviewed through automatic scanners and applicant tracking systems (ATS). Goldman Sachs is one company that is changing its hiring process, including an electronic screening tool for resumes and having applicants interview via a prerecorded-video platform. In a time when a computer is the first pair of eyes to evaluate your credentials, how can you stand out?

Members of the Columbia Career Coaches Network and the Columbia Alumni Career Coalition offer these eight tips: 

  • Make your resume as simple as possible, with no black lines or fancy graphics.


  • Heather Krasna, assistant dean and director of career services at Mailman School of Public Health, and Career Coach Kris Ishibashi '78BC, '82BUS recommend ensuring your resume is formatted in a way that there is no chance the ATS will garble the text by avoiding the use of graphs, images, tables, headers/footers, and columns.  
  • Make your cover letter interesting with action verbs, Gerberg adds.


  • Companies often use different words to describe the same functions, Ishibashi adds. For example, purchasing could also be called sourcing, procurement, or supply chain. Describe your experience by mirroring the language used on the job posting, or a computer may not see their experience as relevant. Be sure to include any any technical terms, software, or foreign languages
  • Don't use acronyms and abbreviations. Spell out things like certified public accountant (CPA), electronic medical records (EMR), or customer relationship management (CRM), Career Coach Melody Wilding '11SW says.
  • Don't write an objective statement, Wilding adds. These tend to be bland, generic, and add no value. Replace this with a qualifications summary—a six-sentence (or bullet pointed) section filled with ATS-friendly keywords that describe specific skills and important experiences relevant to the position.


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