How to Beat ATS when Writing a Resume and Cover Letter for Nursing?
How to Beat the ATS when Writing a Resume and Cover Letter for Nursing
Your nursing resume is your ticket to that perfect job that you seek in a reputed medical organization. Aspirants think that recruiters, hiring managers, and HR representatives review their resume only upon submission. But that’s not the process anymore. The erstwhile unorganized, time consuming, and expensive hiring process is now automated. Today, recruiters use the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) for recruiting candidates.

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) enables recruiters or companies to quickly organize and evaluate potential candidatures for recruitment. This data mining application scans and processes the resumes to rank them according to the skill-set and work experience, and filter applicants. Today, 90% of Fortune 500 Companies use ATS to store resumes and track communication with candidates. This automated tool allows companies to streamline their manual process and reduce their time and effort in finding the best candidate for their vacancies.   

How does it work?

An Applicant Tracking System allows recruiters to review applications, send automated messages on the status of applications, and perform online tests for candidates. Hiring managers can schedule interviews and send rejection emails via ATS. HR personnel can attach the hired employee data stored on ATS to payroll. Additionally, this tool tracks the latest industry regulatory requirements and seamlessly manages workflow.Once an applicant’s contact information, educational qualification, work experience, cover letter, and resume are uploaded in the database, this integrated system streamlines the recruitment and hiring process for employers. This software eliminates 70% of the applicants and thus only relevant resumes are passed to the hiring manager for selection.

Important features of an ATS application for nursing resume

Resume Parser

A resume parser is a translator application that converts unstructured data of resume into a structured format. This software analyses the data and segregates it into different parameters like educational qualification, contact information, certifications, skills, and work experience to help identify relevant applications for the vacancy. It extracts data into a machine-readable output like JSON and XML. With a resume parser, it becomes easier to analyze and store resumes, automatically.

Candidate Ranking Feature

This software uses a vector space matching algorithm to determine applications best suited for the vacancy and pushes them at the top of the recruitment list. Market research indicates 75% of resumes are not suited for a vacancy, and recruiters invest several hours in due diligence. With this feature, recruiters can now breathe easy, as it helps to reduce the manual effort and time devoted to searching suitable resumes from a huge pile of applications. Thus, recruiters can focus their time on reviewing the best-matched resume for open roles, interview qualified candidates, and hire them quickly.

How can your nursing resume beat the ATS?

Write your resume on Microsoft Word 

Write your resume on Microsoft Word document as it is ATS friendly. Avoid submitting your resume as PDF unless specified by the recruiter. A PDF format is considered as a single large image and the ATS bot will skip reading the critical information on your resume.

Use simple formatting for your nursing resume 

Use simple and neat format design across your resume. Refrain from using custom bullets and charts as the ATS bots struggle to read a highly formatted resume and can skip important information that you seek to share with your prospective employer. Use common headings or titles in your resume. 

Only use your address for local hospitals

Write your contact information in a simple format by using a dash (-) to separate the telephone number sequence. Include your physical address for local hospitals to rank better by ATS bot.  

Use relevant keywords and phrases

Carefully read the vacancy to extract the job-related keywords and target them. These keywords focus on the qualifications and skills needed for the vacancy, and ATS has been programmed to use them.In your resume, generously use all job-related phrases and keywords especially in your latest work experience, as resume parser gives weightage to your current experience. Use both acronyms and their expanded terminology in your resume for the resume parser to find you easily. 

Be verbose 

Your resume should have a proper chronological order of your Work History starting from the latest to the oldest. It should contain terminology related to your industry, previous work experience, and your prospective employer. Use a mix of standard and employer-specific terminology in your resume for the resume parser to scan data successfully.    

Don’t commit grammar and spelling errors

Grammar and spellings are a vital aspect of writing an impressive professional resume. Additionally, resume parser analyses grammar, syntax structure, and spellings to analyze unstructured data and convert it into a structured format. Thus, if you skip punctuations, do not capitalize letters, or misspell words, this software will be unable to recognize important facts of your resume and will reject it.

Use common titles

Use widely accepted titles/headings in your resume because resume parser often fails to recognize creative headings. For example, you can use ‘Work History’ or ‘Work Experience’ and not ‘Career Achievements’. Similarly, use ‘Education’ as your heading instead of ‘Academic Achievements.’ 

How to use Applicant Tracking System?

Upload your resume

Instead of copying and pasting the resume into ATS, upload it. ATS bots struggle with formatting issues. Thus, copy, pasting your resume leads to formatting issues that are not visible to you but to the bots.  

Fill complete information

Fill in the complete application form, even if some fields are optional. Since an online application form is built differently from your resume, hence you may want to share critical professional information that offers greater visibility to the bot, and it pushes your resume at the top of the recruiter’s list.    

Multiple positions application

In an organization, you can apply for multiple vacancies. Tailor your resume to each skill-set requested by the vacancies and refrain from discrepancies between the resumes. Additionally, refrain from applying to a single vacancy with multiple resumes. Remember, recruiters will scan all your resumes and easily pick the discrepancies and outrightly reject your applications.   

Check your emails regularly 

Check your inbox and spam folder regularly when you have applied for a vacancy. Since several email services recognize automatically generated messages as spam, and ATS sends automated emails, hence, it’s likely that an important vacancy email will be sent to the spam folder. Ensure that you respond to the communication sent by your potential employer within 24 hours. 

What to do upon rejection?

Upon receiving a rejection communication, do not reapply with a different email address. Since ATS bots use multiple identifiers; they will recognize your re-application and reject it again. Instead, you can connect with the HR department of the hospital and speak to them about your interest in their vacancy and brag about your qualification because it matches their requirements. However, your resume may be rejected for situations out of your control, such as internal hiring or the employer has received an application from a more qualified nursing professional. Never lose hope and look for more vacancies in other organizations.    


Being aware of the Applicant Tracking System enables you to tailor your resume accordingly and improve your chances of climbing higher in the rankings of the recruiter’s list.