9 Things You Need To Know About Applicant Tracking Systems

It is a well-known idea that in order to get to a job interview a candidate must get past the point where the recruiter takes a quick look at your resume and gets to an instant 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 real humans. 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 attractive to an applicant tracking system and actual human beings.

  1. What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

Mainly an Applicant Tracking System is a software application developed to electronically handle the recruiting process. It sifts through a huge number of resumes to verify which one of them will 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 because both of them search for certain criteria to include or reject it.

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 the relevant keywords in the CVs to the keywords they programmed to accept for the job positions.

  1. Why use Applicant Tracking Systems?

Applicant Tracking Systems assist the companies in saving time and paper 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 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 are also starting to make most use of it. They help the recruiters to keep a track of all candidate relevant information in one place.

  1. How does an Applicant Tracking System work?

An Applicant Tracking System processes the submitted resumes as well as sometimes it uses the social media to look for potential employees. When a resume is submitted through an Applicant Tracking System it reads the CV with artificial intelligence. This means, it generally uses the programmed keywords chosen by the employers as qualities for the preferred job candidates. If the submitted resume has the keywords selected by the employers, then it sends the resume to the next level 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 system 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 you had submitted your resume.

  1. Where does Social Media stand?

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 it. The general opinion is that social media presence mostly helps the applicants in their job hunt. But, they really have to understand the significance of having a professional profile on social networks.

Many Applicant Tracking Systems automatically “read” the social media sites like LinkedIn to track down potential candidates. They work the same way with social media searching for the keywords selected by the employers for the job positions. Hence, if you want an ATS to detect you on social media make sure you a 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 method applicants use to design their resumes to pass an Applicant Tracking System is like search engine optimization (SEO). In SEO, the content creators develop and design their web pages so that it can rank on first SERP. SERP refers to search engine page results. But their ranking 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 ranking on the search engine. To rank a  website, usage of the right keywords and optimization of the website is necessary.

Do you want your resume catch attention of the recruiters against a job position? 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 relative to educational institutions, locations of former companies etc.

  1. Research is the solution

As mentioned before and you also must have heard from the HR professionals to develop and adjust your resume accordingly for every job application you submit. Whether you have to make some minor or major changes in your existing resume, make sure to design it according to the specific job ad you are responding to. 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 find as much as information about it as much possible. Whether it is through person to person networking or online searching. It will help you to optimize for keywords. 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 a recruiter selects you for a phone interview and face-to-face interview phase. Some candidates might already know a few of the people working there.

  1. Avoid the blunders

When an Applicant Tracking System search for keywords, it generally looks for specific and accurate details in a CV. 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” and “banking services” or for the word “business administration” in the education section of your CV.

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 task the recruiters do when they have a glance at the resume and where to put them. The only difference is that an ATS make this decision solely based on keywords used in your resume and the humans’ decisions involve keywords and also 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 to save the maximum of recruiters 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.

The best way to get interviews is to do research on the desired jobs and related keywords. Then use them in your resume before you apply for the jobs. Using relevant keywords mean you might consider a qualified candidate, whether there is an Applicant Tracking System or a human involved in the first stage of the recruiting process.

  1. Make your resume ATS-friendly

Applicant Tracking System reads and sorts the resumes. Therefore, your resume has to be easy for the computers to read. Therefore, if your resume is too complex for the software then you are out in 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 can 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 just in a glance. If you have a long work experience, summarize it on one page or a page for ten years’ experience.  The longer the resume, the more bore recruiters will get.
  • Applicant Tracking Systems accept files in many formats. For example PDF, doc, and docx. Mostly the file format is indicates on the field where you are providing your information. 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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