ATS Scannable Resume: Testing How Well Your Resume Matches a Job Description with Word Clouds

Image of womans hand on laptop keyboard opened searching Google by Pixabay user FirmBee.
office-624749_1920” by FirmBee

In today’s world, the job market is more competitive than ever. With online job boards, phone screens, and employers researching you on social media, it is easier than ever to be ruled out as a potential job candidate before you ever have a first interview.

However, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting that call for an interview. You may be shaking you head thinking about how your resume is perfect or you are highly qualified but not getting any interviews. You may wonder “Why am I not getting calls from employers?” … “What is wrong with my resume?

If you are asking what is wrong with your resume, then you are on the right track.

Resume writing has changed slightly over the past 10 years, but significantly enough to make your chances of getting gainful employment, or a finding a better job next to impossible. I dare say — without hyperbole — that you must modify your resume to add these modern resume writing techniques if you hope to achieve job hunting success.

Modern Resume Writing Techniques

Here is a quick list of the main modern resume writing techniques that are being recommended by experts today, especially if you are looking for web design jobs, software engineering jobs, SEO jobs, social media marketing jobs, or other information technology (IT) jobs.

  • Add PAR (Problem-Action-Result) statements to your job bullets. Instead of just writing your duties, make at least 1/3 of your bullet points list a problem you encountered at your job, then describe what action steps you took to solve it, and then finally, list how the result of your actions ultimately benefitted the company.
  • Quantify your accomplishments. Use numbers and percentages to quantify your accomplishments. As described really well by O’Reilly’s “Head First” series, the human eye needs graphics and symbols to break up text and keep it engaging.
  • Tailor your resume with relevant keywords and exact match phrases from the job description. Zety has a great article on How to Tailor Your Resume to a Job Description by blogger, marketing director, and SEO specialist Natalie Severt. One way to do this, she recommends, is to put your resume text into a word cloud generator.
BONUS TIP: See how well your resume matches the job description and check your keyword integration with JobScan’s Free ATS Resume Scanner.

What is a Word Cloud Generator?

You may be wondering “what is a word cloud”?

A word cloud (most commonly seen as a tag cloud or word cloud poster), take all the words in a document and evaluate its word frequency. The more often a word appears, the larger the font. Words will usually appear oriented in all directions, including diagonal, but they all fit together like a puzzle. Many word cloud generators allow you to choose a fancy outline or shape for your cloud, but the most common word clouds are either a square or rectangle shape.

WordPress Resume Word Cloud generated by Eric Hepperle in shape of triangle with coding and programming keywords, dark background.
Resume word cloud for WordPress and Web Application developer, generated with (Eric Hepperle, 2018)

Most word clouds generators only create a flat image file. But, a few even produce an HTML version that you can use on your web page or online resume for better visibility to search engines.

What is an ATS Scannable Resume?

ATS stands for applicant tracking system. According to this HireRight video entitled “How an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Reviews Your Resume“, corporations receive millions of job applications a year, but up to 90% of applicants are unqualified for the jobs they apply for. An applicant tracking system makes the hiring process more efficient and saves the employer lots of time and energy of sorting through unqualified resumes.

Sometimes the applicant tracking systems are referred to as “robots”. As an applicant and job seeker, your job is to write a resume that will get you an interview. But, up to 70% of qualified applicants never get called because the applicant tracking system robot can’t read thier resumes. In order to get to the interview step, it is crucial to write an ATS scannable resume or robot-friendly resume.

How a Word Cloud Helps with ATS Readiness

So, how can a word cloud generator help me create an ats-ready, robot-friendly resume?

Word cloud generators can help you optimize your resume to be ATS-scannable and robot-friendly by showing you the words that appear most frequently on your resume. This is a quick-and-dirty trick to help you get a broader understanding of how your resume will read to others.

For example, suppose you wanted your resume to match the terms “WordPress” and “jQuery“. You throw the content of your resume into one of the cloud generators below. Instantly you see that WordPress is in the tiniest font, while jQuery isn’t on there at all!

Furthermore, you discover that the largest words in your cloud are “Sales” and “Cashier”, which explains all the calls about sales associate and retail positions!

In a matter of seconds you have learned that you needed to:

  • Write your resume to include the words “WordPress” many more times
  • Add multiple references to your jQuery experience
  • Remove references to older sales and retail jobs

Eric Hepperle’s Top 5 Word Cloud Generators

Here are the top 5 word cloud generators I recommend for optimizing ATS scannable resumes:

Jason Davies
Basic, not many options, but you can download a scalable SVG file.

Has an elegant, academic layout and is customizable, but registration is required in order to download your word cloud image.
Highly configurable, but requires registration to be able to save and download your word cloud. You can add hyperlinks and download as an SVG file or PDF if you have a premium membership.

But, my overall top two favorite online word cloud generators are both highly configurable and registration is not required to download your word cloud image. They are and The latter is a home schooling website for grades K-5, but their word art generator is quite sophisticated and powerful. Here are few versions of word clouds I generated with these two full-feature web applications.

More Word Cloud Generators

For a list of 9 of the best online word cloud generators check out Maxwell McGee’s excellent article on the Poll Everywhere Blog which details all the word cloud generators I covered here plus a few others.

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For keyword matching, I’d rather suggest using than word cloud generators as it’s not their main purposes i.e. There can’t figure out which words are important, which are underrepresented, and which are missing entirely!

CVScan is a free tool specifically designed to compare a CV against a job description (See demo on our website or try it out).

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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