Applicant Tracking System: 5 things you need to know
September 22, 2021, 12:47 pm

Applicant Tracking System: 5 things you need to know

Until a few years ago, recruiters had to spend a lot of time calling potential employees. Today, the hiring market cannot be imagined without job aggregators, cloud services, filters, data collection programs, and other services that save HR specialists time. Recruiters conduct video interviews, use ATS platforms, and analyze social media data.

What is ATS?

ATS (Applicant Tracking System) is the key software recruiters need, as it allows them to collect applications from potential candidates, plan interaction with them and search for the best candidates for vacancies. It also allows them to simplify their work, as well as speed up the process of finding and hiring personnel.

Why are recruiters using ATS?

Today, ATS is not the only self-sufficient tool for increasing the efficiency of the recruitment system. However, it also:

  • significantly increases the efficiency of processing incoming resumes while maintaining a high level of quality (they don't have to separate half of the “losers”).
  • allows you to recruiter’s time.
  • high-quality and modern ATS can become a very important element in building an employer brand.
  • allows to collect and store a large amount of data about candidates, which, of course, can be used in the future to further improve the efficiency of recruitment, employee retention, and the formation of candidate search strategies (HR Analytics and Big Data).

How does it work?

First, you apply for a job, then ATS saves your resume and moves it to the company database. Subsequently, recruiters use keywords for each specific opening position, so your resume is considered not only for the vacancy you found but also for others, perhaps even more promising. If your resume contains keywords that the recruiter is interested in, ATS moves your resume higher up the list of candidates. This increases the chances of getting a recruiter’s response. Keywords can include specific skills or experience required for the job. Newer ATS systems can even view the entire resume database that a company has collected over its lifetime. Thus, you have a chance to get a new job offer in the future if the system considers you as the best candidate for a new position.

Is it possible to bypass the algorithm?

There is no easy way to ensure that your resume will go through the algorithm and be shortlisted. Only applying for relevant positions or positions for which you have professional skills can lead to success. However, there are some steps you can take.

How to make your resume attractive to ATS

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

    It is very important to choose the right keywords and optimize them! Any job description contains keywords and original terminology, so you can easily copy them into your resume. ATS searches for these keywords, and if they appear on your resume, you can increase the likelihood of it being matched to the job.

    If a company is looking for an AngularJS (web development software) specialist, don't forget to add this to your resume. But don't be fooled - there is absolutely no sense in pointing out experiences you don't have. Also, avoid adding a keyword list to the end of your resume to increase the chances that your resume will be selected for multiple jobs at once. If your resume doesn’t match any open vacancy, recruiters may lose sight of it.

  • Use the right format

    While this seems obvious, it is worth making sure that your resume is in the format required before submitting it – not all specialized ATSs handle PDF files correctly. They won't be able to read and convert the data from your files into information for their database, and thus your resume will be invisible to any search query made by a recruiter. Instead of PDF, try sending your resume in DOC (x), RTF, or ODF format.

    However, you can have two versions of your resume, the first one as text that can be sent online whole the second one with improved “design” and graphics can be sent directly to the addressee.

  • Be specific

    Do not use only general terms such as "MS Office" or "graphic design" in describing your skills. ATS loves data, so be more precise and specific, for example: "Advanced user of graphic editors: Photoshop, Gimp, Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape" or "Advanced user of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint)".

  • Simplify your resume

    Try to avoid the presence of graphics, tables, and fancy fonts. ATS is created to process just text information, so do not place important data in graphical form. ATS for recruiting cannot read graphics like optical character recognition systems (so-called OCR systems), and they also have problems with table recognition.

    Try to avoid using arrows or bold type, and do not mix different fonts. Try to use a simple font because even if it looks pretty to you, the ATS will not appreciate your carefully selected fonts in different sizes.

    And last but not least – check your grammar. ATS does not recognize misspelled words. Plus, after you upload your resume, it will be reviewed by recruiters, and a resume full of mistakes is not the best way to make a first impression.


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