9 Things You Need To Know About Applicant Tracking Systems

It is a well-known fact that in order make it to the interview room, a candidate must first get past the point where the recruiters take a quick look at your resume and make a quick decision whether to add it in the pipeline or discard it. But it is applicable only to those resumes which actually get a chance to be looked at by humans and not automated software. To reach this phase, many of the job candidates and their resumes need to survive the applicant tracking systems first.  We are sharing some insights that can make your CV appealing to an applicant tracking system and actual human beings.

  1. Defining Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)?

Mainly an Applicant Tracking System is a software application developed to electronically handle the recruiting process. It sifts through large number of resumes to pick one that could be the best fit for the job position. The way it processes a resume is no different from a recruiter looking at your resume for a few seconds since both mediums search for certain criteria to either accept or reject a particular candidate.

While the recruiters mostly look for reasons to habitually reject the resumes, for example, lacking related skills or some spelling errors. Applicant Tracking Systems function by searching for relevant keywords in the CVs for what they are programmed for in order to decide the fate of any particular resume.

  1. Why Use Applicant Tracking Systems?

Applicant Tracking Systems assist the companies in saving time and resource while helping them to stay organized.  Recruiters spend most of their time on filing and shredding papers, or moving and deleting the emails. Sometimes an employer or a recruiter may accidentally delete the email with the candidate’s resume that a company wants to hire. But with an applicant tracking system you can reduce such risks.

Initially, Applicant Tracking Systems were used by huge enterprises to deal with thousands of applications. But with the passage of time, small and mid-sized companies also began making the most of these software. They help the recruiters to keep a track of all candidate relevant information in one place.

  1. How Do Applicant Tracking Systems Work?

Applicant Tracking Systems process the submitted resumes as well as sometimes they use social media to look for potential employees. When one submits a resume through an ATS, it makes used of AI to read that resume. Meaning that Applicant Tracking Systems generally use the programmed keywords fed by the employers as checks for the preferred job candidates. If the submitted resume includes those keywords selected by the employers, then the ATS proceeds that resume along the hierarchy of the recruiting process.

The keyword may include names of preferred universities, former companies and most importantly, skills and experience relevant to the job positions. Sometimes the employers may also instruct the applicant tracking systems to search through the whole resume database of the company to find the best candidate. Therefore, it is quite possible that you have strong chances to be detected by the ATS irrespective of the fact how long ago you had submitted your resume.

  1. Role of Social Media

Professional networking has been playing an important role in the job seeking process since forever. Similarly, social media is also becoming an increasingly important part of recruiting process. The general opinion is that social media presence greatly helps the applicants in their job hunt. Nevertheless, they really have to understand the significance of having a professional profile on social networks.

Many Applicant Tracking Systems automatically crawl through social media sites like LinkedIn to track down potential candidates. They work the same way with social media looking for keywords selected by the employers for the job positions. Therefore, if you wish an ATS to spot you on social media, make sure you have a maintained profile on it. Moreover, it is better to incorporate the basic details like education, professional experience, and skills that make you prominent. Do this and it is enough for an applicant tracking system to find you.

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The approach applicants use to craft their resumes in order to pass through Applicant Tracking Systems is like search engine optimization (SEO). In SEO, the content creators develop and design their web pages so that they get ranked on first SERP. SERP is an acronym for Search Engine Results Page. But their indexing depends on the quality of the content. The better the quality, the higher is the ranking of page. As far as the matter of content is concerned, matching keywords play an important role in getting indexed on the search engine. To rank a  website, using the right keywords and optimizing the webpage is holds pivotal priority.

Do you want your resume to catch attention of the recruiters against a job position? Its a big YES obviously! So the best way is to consider the possible keywords that the recruiters and Applicant Tracking Systems will be looking for. These keywords can consist of alternative job titles, related skills and experience. In addition to this, these can be in relation to educational institutions, locations of former companies etc.

  1. Research is The Solution

As mentioned above and you also must have heard this from the HR professionals to develop and adjust your resume accordingly for every job application you submit. Make sure to amend your resume for any minor/major changes w.r.t. your targeting job requirements. Every organization or employer looks for certain qualifications to fill in the vacant positions.  They can be noticed by either a recruiter or keyword-seeking Applicant Tracking System.

When applying to an organization you must extract as much information about it as possible. Whether it is through individual networking or online connections. It will lead you to a keyword optimized resume for that job. If the existing employees of that company have a social presence, go through their profiles and look whether you have similar qualifications and will you be a right member to fit in the team. If there is no Applicant Tracking System involved in the hiring process, you may want to get in touch with the potential candidates. Later when you do make it to the interview, you’d find some pre-made connections that can work in your favor.

  1. Avoid Silly Blunders

When Applicant Tracking Systems search for keywords, it generally looks for specific and accurate details in a resume. For example, if you are applying for a job as a manager of banking, the Applicant Tracking System may search for the phrases like “banking services manager” , “banking services” or for the word “business administration” in the education section of your resume.

There is a strong possibility that the Applicant Tracking System will not look for words and phrases such as “confident” and “good team player”. Here the main purpose to use an ATS is to find the candidates with resumes matching the requirements for the particular job positions. Similar to the task that recruiters perform when they glance over the resume and where decide their fate if to accept or reject it. The only difference is that an ATS makes this decision solely based on keywords used in your resume whereas the human decision making involve keywords and their sense of random judgement. 

  1. Is the Applicant Tracking System a friend or a foe?

An Applicant Tracking System is very useful to streamline the recruiting process for the recruiters. It also helps the recruiters to optimally utilize their time. Manually sorting the resumes and finding the good fit takes a lot of time. For the majority of the job positions, having a completely automatic hiring process is not possible. If you believe that you can show your best qualities to the potential employers only through a face-to-face meeting, you can still grab this opportunity only if you can get through the phase where an ATS will be deciding whether you are qualified for the position or not.

  1. Significance of ATS Friendly Resume

Applicant Tracking Systems intelligently read and sort the resumes. Therefore, your resume has to be compatible for computers to read. Therefore, if your resume is inconsistent for the software then you are already out of the first round. Here are some tips you can use to make your CV easy to read:

  • Thoroughly check out your social profiles and website links you use in your resume. Nowadays, some Applicant Tracking Systems are designed to automatically scan and retrieve information from the links you have given.
  • Some applicants find it easy to send their resumes while applying for a job. But, preference is that they should fill out the custom application forms used by Applicant Tracking Systems. As it provides the recruiters with candidates’ information in a uniform format.
  • Use simple and basic fonts (Arial or Helvetica) in your resume to make it readable for the recruiter and ATS.
  • Be sure to use a standard format. Such as highlighting your basic data (name, phone, and email address) by placing it on top of the page. Further, keeping the alignment with the rows and basic fonts.
  • Make sure that your resume is short yet comprehensive. So that it delivers the main gist to the reader in a short glance. If you have a long work experience, summarize it on one page or a page for ten years’ experience.  The longer the resume, more the likelihood of recruiter avoiding it.
  • Applicant Tracking Systems accept files in many formats. For example PDF, doc, and docx. You must conform with the recommended file format provided by the recruiter. Although, you might prefer to use a doc file, there are fewer chances of making a mistake with a PDF. Therefore, always use a PDF file format.
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