How To Beat The Applicant Tracking Systems

As more and more jobs are being taken over by computers these days, it seems that even the world of recruitment and job seeking isn’t safe.

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are digitized systems set up by companies to act as a robotic recruiter, scanning through applicants’ resumes and looking for keywords and dates to help them reduce the pool of potentials.

The resumes which make it through this initial stage are then forwarded on to hiring managers so that they’re left with a smaller and more ideal selection of candidates to work with.

However, as is the case with anything done by computers these days, there are still many errors to iron out, so it’s up to the job seeker to be proactive and change their resume to suit the ATS resume test.

People icons in a palm of a hand.

According to the statistics, applicant tracking systems have been known to eradicate up to 75% of potential candidates from a pool before human eyes ever get to look at them, and because they’re so error-prone they can wipe out good candidates from the group.

In order to give yourself a better chance of making it through to the interview stage, you need to be smart about how you word your resume to ensure you can learn how to beat ATS for good.


How Does ATS Work?

An applicant tracking system is a software program that’s been designed to scan through resumes and eliminate potential candidates. These programs look for certain criteria, dates, and keywords to see if you’re a good fit to get through to the next stage and if you aren’t then they simply don’t allow your resume to be seen by the hiring manager.

Although it might sound like they make a recruiter’s job easier, there are still many flaws with these systems and so job seekers look for ways to learn how to beat applicant tracking system.

The ATS will store your details and resume in a database and will scour through it to find relevant criteria and keywords that are a match for the position. Your results will be ranked with all other applicants to see who is a good fit, and these will be contacted for the next stage of the recruitment process.

There are plenty of negatives to mention in regards to ATS, but they also have their benefits too.

One of the biggest benefits to the job seeker is that your resume is kept on this database after your initial application, so if the company has another opening at a later date then you will still be in the running for consideration, which may lead to an even better position that’s suited to your skills and experience.


How You Can Avoid Being Rejected By ATS

Knowing how to get past applicant tracking system is as simple as thinking like a machine and trying to create a resume that’s as straightforward as possible. Here are a few tips from career experts on how to beat ATS and what you avoid in your next resume.

  • Avoid tables and graphics - This should be a given for any style of resume, but it’s best to avoid putting images, graphics, and tables in your resume. This can distract from the vital information, but it will also confuse the ATS and make it harder for them to read your important text
  • Send as a Word document - Although it’s common practice these days for people to send their resumes in a PDF, these are hard for applicant tracking systems to read. To give yourself the best chance of success, send your resume through in a Word document as it will be easier for the computer to understand
  • Add length and details - If you’re certain that your resume is going to be checked by an ATS, it’s better to add in a few more details and keywords that will get noticed. These systems are designed to search for particular words, so don’t be afraid to beef up your resume a bit more to ensure you have what it’s after
  • Use basic terms - Rather than trying to be creative with titles, stick to simple headings such as “Work Experience”. This will allow the ATS to know exactly where to draw your work experience from and cause less confusion for the system
  • Start with titles and not dates - One of the most common errors that ATS have is that they’re unable to read a resume correctly when the date is listed first. For this reason, you should always show your title and company first with dates underneath so that this is the data collected

Which Companies Use ATS Today

Although it might seem foolish to use something that can get rid of so many positive applicants, it might surprise you to know that a large number of companies use them today. It’s believed that up to 90% of Fortune 500 companies use some form of an ATS due to the fact that they save time and resources from being used in the recruitment division.

Recruitment illustrated.

With more and more companies leaning towards this type of digitized recruitment process, it might be beneficial for the job seeker to assume that every position they apply for uses one of these systems and so your resume should be altered to suit.

One simple error or a poor judgment in formatting means your resume could be instantly discarded, and it’s just not a risk that you should be willing to take.


Final Thoughts

Applicant tracking systems are another area of proof where computers haven’t yet managed to do a job as well as humans, but there’s no denying that they do save companies a lot of time and money from manually sorting through resumes.

Rather than avoiding jobs where you think an ATS might be in place, it’s better to be proactive and format your resume to suit these digital scanning systems so that you know you’re resume is making the cut each and every time.

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