7 Secrets of Applicant Tracking Systems Every Candidate Should ‘Decode’

understanding applicant tracking systems
An applicant tracking system is the invisible gorilla in the room every time you apply for a job - the better you can train the gorilla, the better your chances at getting hired
Nowadays, one key feature that most job applicants overlook while applying for a particular job is the presence of an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

This particular software acts as the gatekeeper to an organization’s recruiting process and is mainly utilized for selection of a resume, based on specific previously determined criteria.

Knowledge of how an ATS works can help job candidates land themselves lucrative jobs.

Keeping this in mind, we've provided some important points of information all job seekers should understand when dealing with such a high-end technological system.

The Primary Concept Of Applicant Tracking Systems

It is important to craft out your resume to suit the screening process of an applicant tracking system installed by the corresponding organization. But prior to that, it is essential to know how exactly the ATS software works while processing the resume of job applicants.

The step by step procedure is detailed below:

  • The software initially removes all types of formatting in your resume

  • Once done, it now focuses on searching for specific keywords and phrases in the document

  • The various sections of the resume are drafted into different categories, namely: qualifications, work experience, skill set, contact information and so on

  • Once this is done, the ATS software analyzes and matches the employer specific keywords with the keywords found in your resume. The greater the matching scores, the greater your suitability for that particular job opening.

  • The scores of the individual candidates are matched up against each other to determine the top candidates to be called for further recruitment process.

Considering such elaborate screening process by the ATS software, you as a job applicant should draft out your resume or CV in correspondence with the below given ‘secrets’.

Adopt these in your resume so that you can be eligible for the further recruitment process of the organization.

7 ‘Secrets’ To Keep In Mind While Drafting Your Resume

An applicant tracking system is inclusive of features that help streamline the talent acquisition and recruiting process within an organization. As per the latest market research, it has been found that around 75% of business organizations utilize the services of an applicant tracking system for executing their recruitment process.

If you want to surmount the applicant tracking system of the organization you are applying to, here are 7 secrets to keep in mind while drafting your resume.

weird resume
This will not work

1) Include Keywords and Avoid Filler Words

One of the core functionalities of an ATS is to filter out resumes based on specific keywords.

You, as a job applicant, should screen out ‘keywords’ from the job description and also the skill set required, and include the same in your resume. For example, if a job description continually mentions a specific skill, like AVID non-linear editing, you should be sure to include this keyword in your resume in as many instances as would seem normal.

Companies have programmed their ATS to ignore vague and generic words such as “independent worker”, “successful”, etc. Hence, it is absolutely essential that you put forth only job specific and skill specific language, and avoid the usage of filler words as much as possible.

That list of power verbs your mom sent you to help with your resume has never been less meaningful.

Moreover, make sure to include the full-form of any abbreviations used, so that your resume is not sidelined by the ATS during the screening process.

2) Formatting Is Important

Contrary to popular notion, one should keep the interface simple and minimalistic.

Avoid any possible use of graphics and tables and make sure that you do not go crazy about special characters, bullets, catchy fonts, colors, etc. Candidates are strictly advised to use standardized fonts.

Some applicable fonts are: Times New Roman, Impact, Courier, Arial, and Georgia.

3) Include Referrals 

There are high chances of your resume getting green-flagged by the ATS if you happen to include any employee referral of the Company/Organization you are applying to.how to prepare for your sports job search ebook

The ATS scans for employee referrals and adds additional points for their inclusion. This is definitely one of the best ways to get a lead against other candidates who possess equal potential, but lack referrals. The phrase "references available upon request" is very 2001, now you should include the reference in your submitted resume so that the computers can see how relevant you are to their business.

4) Avoid Dates In Your Work Experience

Include your previous employer’s details and detailed description of your work responsibilities and skill sets. But try avoiding dates in the work experience lest it should confuse the robots of the ATS and put you at disadvantage.

If at all there is a specific requirement for inclusion of dates, keep a minimalistic representation of the same.

5) Make Your Resume Long

This was a totally frowned upon thing in the past.

However, these automated recruiters prefer long, comprehensive, and detailed resumes when it comes to the screening process. Making your resume long equips you with the added advantage of including keywords with greater frequency. This delivers greater perfection to your resume and increases your chances of getting recognized and shortlisted by the ATS.

6) Avoid The Use Of Headers And Footers

Though these may look quite attractive in print, the incorporation of headers and footers in the resume is known to jam-up the system and confuse the robots of the ATS.

Hence, it is extremely important that you as a job applicant totally avoid the usage of headers and footers in your Resume.

7) Placing Information

The information you are putting up on your resume should be in ‘appropriate’ places. When the whole process of selecting a candidate is done by the ATS software, placing the right information at the right place is very important. Avoid placing important information about yourself in the header or footer of the page as the ATS ignores the information of that part.

The Bottom Line:

Applicant Tracking Systems are an incredibly powerful tool that can help business organizations in recruiting the best talents from the industry.

However, it has been observed that around 75% of the total candidates get rejected in the initial process of the screening just because their resume wasn’t in a proper format. Hence, it is highly crucial that job applicants have a broad awareness about the functioning and screening process of an ATS software and equip their resume according to the above-mentioned points so that every job applicant or candidate can successfully conquer the applicant tracking system, & thus land his/her dream job!

Author Bio:

Sanjay holds a bachelor degree in Computer Engineering.He works as Content and Marketing Manager in TopTenInsider. In his free time he enjoys reading, spending time with friends and family

Twitter: @sanjaydarji01
By Sanjay Darji | December 03, 2016
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