How to Optimize Your Education Sector Resume for Recruitment Software

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Photo credit: Kaspars Grinvalds/Adobe Stock

An introduction to ATS

With over 75% of recruiters and employers now using recruitment software to select and manage applicants throughout the recruitment process, it’s crucial that your education resume appeals to both humans and the “machines.” You may have heard people talking about ATS, which is an acronym for Applicant Tracking System. These are the overarching technology platforms used by organizations to manage their recruitment process, but it’s the resume parsing and matching modules that you need to concern ourselves with.

ATS have the ability to match an applicant’s resume to the job description and “parse” the data in your resume into the ATS. Your education resume needs to contain the right information so that the ATS judges you a good match for the role, and it needs to be in a format that the ATS can easily read and parse, so when the data is transferred into the ATS, the information is transferred to the correct fields.

Free resume assessments

There are a number of automated resume assessments available to job seekers in the education sector, that claim to judge how ATS-optimized your resume is. Be aware that the only true way to “score” a resume, as far as ATS optimization is concerned, is to measure it against a job description or run it through a proper ATS.

It is possible for a resume scanner to look for obvious omissions or errors, but if you take advantage of a so-called ATS scanner tool, be aware that receiving a score without a benchmark is flawed logic i.e., if your score is say 57%, ask yourself the question “57% of what?”

There are some resume assessment tools that allow you to upload a resume and job description and these provide a much more useful yardstick. There are also some useful resume assessment tools that provide hints and tips; just be aware that as far as ATS optimization is concerned, some are more of a clever sales pitch than a tool with any scientific foundations.

Key resume optimization tactics for international education professionals

Aside from the effectiveness of various resume assessment tools, the logic of optimizing your resume for recruitment software is still a good one. Here are some quick wins to make sure your resume appeals to both humans and the machines.

  • The type of document you use for your education resume matters, and Microsoft Word has historically been safer than PDF. Although many newer ATS are able to read PDF, some of the older technologies struggle with this format. Arguably, PDF is better for those ATS that are able to read PDF documents, so look out for any instructions when making your application.
  • When structuring your resume, the format you choose is essential, and a chronological resume is the most accepted format for international education professionals. Display your roles in reverse chronological order and avoid features such as sidebars and funky layouts as they simply confuse the parsing technology. Ensure that the information you include in your resume is aligned with the roles you are seeking, i.e., frontline educator, dean or faculty leader, or service/product provider in the field of international education.
  • Graphics such as logos are not advised and headers, footers and tables can cause issues, so these should be avoided. ATS cannot deal with fancy formatting, and they may affect your resume’s appearance once it has been parsed by recruitment software.
  • Headings are important! Firstly, make sure your resume has headings, and secondly, make sure they are commonly used ones. Having a “Work History Synopsis” may sound cool, but the resume bots won’t have the faintest idea what on earth that section is. “Professional Experience” on the other hand, is a much more optimized and consistent heading that matches what the software is programed to find.
  • If you have an unusual job title, it may be a good idea to change it to a more well-known version. ATS are not programmed to find every possible variation of a job title, so commonly used titles are much more effective. If you are concerned about how a recruiter or potential employer might feel about changing your job title, you could use the more commonly used variant and add your actual job title alongside in brackets.
  • Having your job title, or at least how you professionally describe yourself, after your name, i.e., Student Services Co-ordinator, is a great tactic to signpost your resume and help the bots figure out what you are.
  • Keywords are crucial as the ATS algorithm is looking for a match between the keywords on your resume and the keywords on the job description. Ensuring you include relevant key educational terminology in your resume throughout the experience section and in your profile will ensure you meet the requirements of ATS. This could be skills such as Parent Communication & Partnerships, Mandated Educational Reporting, Child Development Programs, Grading, and Student Recruiting. Note how these are written in passive voice i.e., Student Recruiting rather than Recruiting Students.
  • The general content of your resume is also crucial, making sure the descriptions of your positions are aligned with the requirements listed on the job description.
  • Accomplishments are one of the most important elements of an international education resume as far as a recruiter/employer is concerned, but some ATS are clever enough to look for $, % and other statistical indicators that you have succeeded in your role. Make sure your resume is at least 30% focused on outcomes, as this can have a positive impact on beating the ATS bots and getting the attention of the recruitment decision makers. For example, provide tangible results from projects you managed, improvements you delivered in educational performance, or contributions you made to course curricula.
  • Believe it or not, but fonts can play a small role in your resume’s readability, so play it safe and stick to common serif or sans serif fonts such as Arial, Cambria and Calibri.
  • When using acronyms, it’s important to ascertain how likely it is that a recruiter will be searching on the abbreviation or the long form version. To eliminate any issues, it is best to use both the abbreviation and the long form version to avoid any confusion.

Some Help

If you are interested in having a free evaluation of your education resume, including elements that affect ATS optimization, please email it to with reference to your membership and one of our team at CVIA Careers will be in touch to provide feedback.