Things to Know About Applicant Tracking System?
Adam Smith
Certified Professional Career Coach
July 28, 2022, 5:55 pm

Things to Know About Applicant Tracking System?

Unlocking the Door to Job Interviews

What Is an ATS-Optimized Resume?

Standing out as a candidate is crucial. To secure that coveted interview with your dream employer, you need a well-crafted resume that passes the initial screening process. Companies mostly use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to manage their hiring process efficiently. An ATS-optimized resume is designed to navigate through this digital gatekeeper and increase your chances of getting noticed by human recruiters. This article explores what is an applicant tracking system, its importance, and essential tips for creating one.

Understanding the ATS

Applicant Tracking Systems are automated tools employers use to streamline the hiring process. They are resume-tracking systems designed to manage and store job applications, analyze resumes, and identify the most relevant candidates for a job opening. ATS software works by parsing resumes and extracting relevant information into a standardized format, making it easier for recruiters to compare and shortlist candidates.

Why ATS-Optimized Resumes Matter

With the sheer volume of job applications received for each open position, most employers rely on ATS systems to screen and filter applicants. Unfortunately, if your resume doesn't align with the ATS requirements, it may never reach the hands of a human recruiter, even if you are a perfect fit for the role. Therefore, creating an ATS-optimized resume is essential to enhance your chances of getting past this initial hurdle and securing an interview.

How Do Applicant Tracking Systems Work?

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are software applications designed to streamline and automate the recruitment process for employers and hiring managers. They help manage the influx of job applications by organizing and filtering candidate data, ultimately making it easier for recruiters to identify the most suitable candidates for a particular job opening. Here's a step-by-step overview of how ATS works:

Job Posting and Candidate Submission

The employer creates a job posting with specific requirements, responsibilities, and qualifications. Candidates interested in the position apply through various channels, such as the company's website, job boards, or professional networking sites. They submit their resumes, cover letters, and other required documents online.

Parsing Resumes

When candidates apply, their application documents are uploaded into the ATS database. The ATS then scans and parses the resumes, extracting relevant information such as contact details, work experience, education, skills, etc. This parsing process converts the resume's content into a format that can be easily analyzed and searched.

Storing and Indexing

The parsed information from the resumes is stored in a centralized database, which is indexed based on specific keywords, skills, and other relevant criteria. This indexing makes it possible for the ATS to search for specific candidate attributes when needed quickly.

Filtering and Ranking

When a new job opening becomes available, the ATS compares the job requirements with the indexed candidate data to filter and rank the applicants. The system looks for keywords, qualifications, and experience relevant to the job description.

ATS Algorithms

ATS algorithms play a critical role in the filtering process. These algorithms determine how well a candidate matches the job requirements based on keyword relevance, experience level, education, location, and other factors specified by the employer. Candidates closely matching the job criteria are ranked higher and more likely to move forward in the hiring process.

Application Review

Recruiters and hiring managers access the ATS dashboard to view and manage candidate applications. The ATS lists candidates ranked according to their relevance to the job description. Recruiters can review the applicants' profiles, contact information, and attached documents to decide whether to move a candidate forward in the recruitment process.

Communication and Scheduling

ATS platforms often come with communication tools that allow recruiters to send automated emails or messages to candidates, notifying them of the status of their applications or requesting additional information. Some ATS systems also offer scheduling features to set up interviews directly within the platform.

Collaboration and Reporting

ATS platforms enable collaboration among hiring teams, allowing multiple stakeholders to access candidate information and provide feedback. Additionally, they generate reports and analytics to track key recruitment metrics, such as the number of applications, time to hire, and source of applicants.

Advantages of ATS for Employers

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) offers employers and hiring managers numerous advantages. These software applications have become essential tools in modern recruitment processes due to the following benefits:

  • Time-saving. One of the most significant advantages of ATS for employers is its ability to automate and streamline recruitment. ATS can handle high volumes of job applications, parse resumes, and filter candidates based on specific criteria. This significantly reduces the time and effort required to review each application manually.
  • Improved Efficiency. ATS improves the efficiency of the recruitment process by organizing candidate data in a centralized database. Recruiters can quickly access and compare applicant profiles, making identifying suitable candidates for a particular job opening easier.
  • Enhanced Candidate Screening. ATS uses sophisticated algorithms to filter and rank all the applicants based on their relevance to the job description. Recruiters can define specific keywords and criteria to match applicants' skills and qualifications with the job requirements, resulting in a more efficient and accurate screening process.
  • Better Candidate Matching. By automating the screening process, ATS helps employers find candidates who match the qualifications and experience for a particular role. This improves the quality of candidates reaching the interview stage and reduces the risk of overlooking potential talent.
  • Simplified Collaboration. ATS platforms facilitate collaboration among hiring teams. Recruiters, hiring managers, and other stakeholders can access the system, review candidate profiles, leave feedback, and rate applicants. This collaborative approach streamlines the decision-making process and ensures the best candidates are selected for interviews.
  • Consistent and Fair Evaluation. ATS evaluates candidates based on predefined criteria, ensuring a fair and consistent assessment of applicants. This helps employers avoid unconscious bias in screening and maintain compliance with equal opportunity employment regulations.
  • Automated Communication. ATS platforms come with automated communication tools that enable employers to send personalized emails to candidates, notifying them of their application status or requesting additional information. This improves the candidate experience and keeps applicants engaged throughout the recruitment process.
  • Reporting and Analytics. ATS generates detailed reports and analytics related to various recruitment metrics. Employers can track the number of applications received, the source of applicants, time-to-fill positions, and other key performance indicators (KPIs). These insights help identify areas for improvement in the recruitment process.
  • Enhanced Employer Branding. A streamlined and well-organized recruitment process, made possible by ATS, enhances an employer's reputation and employer branding. A positive candidate experience can lead to word-of-mouth referrals and attract top talent in the future.
  • Compliance and Data Security. ATS platforms often come with features that ensure compliance with data protection regulations. Candidate data is securely stored and accessible only to authorized personnel, reducing the risk of data breaches and protecting sensitive information.

How to Optimize Your Resume for ATS

Clear Formatting
Simplicity is key when crafting an ATS-friendly resume. Stick to standard fonts like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman, and avoid complex formatting elements like tables, images, or graphics that may confuse the ATS and lead to incorrect data parsing.

Appropriate File Format
Save your resume in a commonly used format like .docx or .pdf. Avoid using unconventional file types, as some ATS software may struggle to read them.

Keywords and Phrases
ATS algorithms scan resumes for keywords and phrases relevant to the job description. Analyze the job posting and incorporate relevant industry-specific keywords naturally throughout your resume. Ensure that you include relevant keywords throughout your resume, especially in the following sections: Professional Summary: Use a summary to highlight your key qualifications, experience, and accomplishments, incorporating relevant keywords. Work Experience: Describe your work experience with a focus on achievements and results using industry-specific keywords and phrases. However, avoid excessive keyword stuffing, as it may appear disingenuous.

Simple Section Headings
Use standard section headings such as "Work Experience," "Education," and "Skills" to help the ATS categorize the information correctly.

Spell Out Abbreviations
While industry-specific acronyms may be familiar to human recruiters, ATS systems might not recognize them. Spell out abbreviations to ensure better parsing.

Customize Each Application
Tailor your resume for each job application. While time-consuming, customizing your resume to match the specific job requirements and keywords will significantly improve your chances of getting noticed. Incorporate these keywords throughout your resume naturally, as ATS software is sensitive to contextual relevance. However, avoid keyword stuffing, as it may lead to rejection.

Avoid Headers and Footers
Some ATS software may not recognize headers and footers, so important information in these sections might be overlooked. Instead, include essential details within the main body of your resume.

Use a Simple Design
A clean and straightforward layout is preferable for an ATS-optimized resume. Bullet points are particularly effective for presenting information concisely and conveniently.

Proofread Your Resume
While optimizing for ATS, don't neglect traditional resume best practices. Ensure that your resume is free from spelling, grammar, and inconsistencies. A well-polished resume will make a positive impression on the ATS and the hiring manager.

Optimize Your Education Section
In the education section, mention your degree, educational institution, and graduation year. You can also include relevant coursework or certifications related to the job. If you possess a degree from a renowned university or have certifications highly regarded in your field, include them explicitly as keywords.

Common Misconceptions About ATS

Misconceptions about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are common, and it's essential to clarify these misconceptions to understand better how ATS works and its impact on the hiring process. Let's address each of these misconceptions:

a. ATS rejects qualified candidates

One common misconception is that ATS automatically rejects qualified candidates. In reality, ATS is a tool that streamlines the recruitment process and helps employers manage large volumes of job applications efficiently. While ATS may filter out some candidates who do not meet specific criteria or lack relevant keywords, it does not make hiring decisions. Recruiters or hiring managers review the shortlisted candidates and make the final selection. Sometimes, qualified candidates might not make it through the initial ATS screening due to a lack of keyword optimization or a mismatch between their resume and the job description.

b . ATS focuses only on keywords

Another misconception is that ATS solely relies on keywords to evaluate candidates. While keywords are crucial in ATS scanning, modern ATS systems have evolved to use more advanced algorithms. They consider contextual information, semantic matching, and other factors to assess a candidate's suitability for a particular role. ATS aims to identify candidates whose qualifications and experience align closely with the job requirements, not just those with the exact keywords in their resumes.

c. All employers use ATSs

While ATS is prevalent in today's hiring landscape, it is not used by all employers. Smaller businesses or companies with limited hiring needs may manage applications manually or use other recruitment tools. ATS adoption is more common among medium to large-sized enterprises that receive a high volume of applications and need to streamline their recruitment processes efficiently.


ATS has become a vital tool in the recruitment process for many employers. Creating an ATS-optimized resume using relevant keywords, appropriate formatting, and tailoring your resume for each job application is essential to increase your chances of getting noticed.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Q1. Why use an Applicant Tracking System?
Applicant Tracking Systems help employers streamline their hiring process, save time, identify qualified candidates, maintain compliance with hiring regulations, and manage many applications effectively.

Q2. How to optimize your resume for ATS?
To optimize your resume for ATS, use relevant keywords, simple formatting, and standard file formats, and include a skills section. Customize your resume for each application to match the specific job requirements.

Q3. What keywords should be included in the resume?
Include words and phrases from the job description, such as talents, job titles, particular tools or software, and terms linked to the industry.

Q4. Do all employers use the applicant tracking system?
No, not all employers use an Applicant Tracking System. ATS adoption varies based on the size of the company and its recruitment practices. Larger organizations and online job portals are likelier to use ATS than smaller companies.


Related articles:

5 things you need to know about ATS at work

What to Ask to Get to Know Your Employer?

Where Do Keywords Lead You To?

How to Criticize Others Correctly?

How to Do More During Working Day?

How to Make Returning to the Office Comfortable?

How is leadership changing in the Millennial Era?

Prepare resume: Labor market review after COVID-19

12 Lifehacks How to Get a Promotion

12 tips on How to keep a Job during the Quarantine

7 Skills Which Help to Rise Salary

10 Points can be Deleted from the Professional Resume

Show your profile on social media, and I will tell you what you are

The Importance of Having a LinkedIn Profile