Applicant Tracking Systems: What? Why? How?

As my company name suggests, the goal of each successful job seeker is to write and submit a high-quality career document that lands on the top of the hiring manager’s stack of resumes. As technology has long ago crept into almost every aspect of our lives, this stack of resumes has turned into a virtual stack. Employers big and small use Applicant Tracking software to manage the candidate recruitment process.

WHAT is the ATS?

Applicant Tracking Systems are a type of software that sorts through thousands of resumes to determine which ones are the best fit for the positions for which they were submitted. Once a resume passes through ATS, it goes on to the next stage of recruitment.

WHY use the ATS?

The ATS helps employers save time, stay organized, ensure compliance, and find the best candidates. The recruitment process is now streamlined, since the software organizes information on prospective employees.

HOW do we “beat” the ATS?

While Applicant Tracking Systems offer improved efficiency and time savings for hiring companies, they present a real problem for applicants. As job seekers, we now have to write resumes to pass this technology roadblock, as well as to attract the hiring manager’s attention.

It is important to include the right keywords in your resume in order to ensure the best possible match between what you have to offer and what the employer is looking for. How do you know what the ideal candidate looks like to your target employer? By examining the job posting closely, you will get a clue to the employer’s wants and needs. The keywords that you need to incorporate into your resume are found right in the job posting: the hard and soft skills, the education/training requirements, and location.

Your resume will stand a greater chance of passing through the ATS if you include meaningful, relevant keywords throughout the document – while staying honest, of course. Cut out the meaningless “filler” words, and your resume will be well on the way onto the hiring manager’s desk.

In addition to having the right keywords, your resume must be properly formatted in order to pass through the ATS:

– Contact information should include your name alone on the first line, followed by city/state, one phone number, one email address, one LinkedIn profile URL.
– Use common section headings – do not get creative: Summary, Employment History, Certifications, Technical Expertise, Community Involvement, etc…
– Work experience should include company name, location, job title, and dates. List each position separately to show a clear career progression and avoid any confusion.
– Use a standard font like Arial, Calibri, or Georgia.
– Stay away from graphics, logos, charts, tables, or columns.

You may notice that all these guidelines leave your resume looking pretty plain. For this reason, some job seekers may want to use two versions of their resume: an ATS-friendly resume and a more visually appealing resume to be used when networking and submitting personally.

Having said all this about ATS optimization, keep in mind that your next job or promotion will most likely come from a recommendation. Referred candidates have an advantage, so I strongly advise networking! Your best job search strategy is not to submit your resume to hundreds of postings – it is to network, network, network your way into your next position.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I would like to send you a “Top 9 Common Resume Mistakes” tip sheet! Sign up here.

I value your trust and confidentiality, and will only send you periodic, relevant articles and news. Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time.