Make the ATS your best friend

Imagine spending all that time and effort in understanding job descriptions and applying for roles but not hearing back. Let’s talk about the most common reason -  most likely your resume is read by the ATS aka Applicant Tracking System. According to jobscan, 99% of Fortune 500 Companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).

The ATS tool was introduced keeping in mind the number of applications a recruiter needed to go through to find the ideal candidate and also to bring about better structure in the recruitment process. The ATS system help sort out applications based on various factors like search keywords (skills both hard and soft or job titles), filters (location, education, certifications) or how well the resume matches the job description ( inbuilt matching algorithms) 

If you want your application to be noticed by a recruiter, you must write an ATS friendly resume.

The rule of thumb is to keep it simple.

One of the easiest ways to find out if you are applying through an ATS system is by looking at the URL of the job listing. If you see the URL changes from the company website to an ATS system name, you are applying through it. Here are some of the common systems that have been adopted by many companies 

- Workday
 - Taleo 
- Greenhouse 
- Jobvite
- Lever 
- BambooHR
- Zoho
- Recruitee
- Successfactors 
- SmartRecruiters
Newer ATS systems rank your resume against the job description making it easier for recruiters to only view candidates with a higher rank. 

On providing consent, ATS is also known to store a candidate profile in the system hence its possible that a candidate can be invited to interview for a role in the same company later on.

So how do you get past an ATS system

You might have often questioned yourself how long should your resume be? It might seem difficult but it’s ideal to write a 1 or 2 pager. The key is to keep your resume relevant to the job role. Only state relevant information about your experience. Refrain from stating your complete work history. The more relevant it is, the more qualified you are among your competition. Make sure to read the job description thoroughly before applying to the role and company.

Pay attention to the formatting

If it’s not easy on the eyes, it won’t be read by a bot or a human. Design your resume keeping readability in mind.

- Avoid tables, logos, graphs, pie charts, illustrations. Use simple fonts like Helvetica, Arial, Garamond, or Georgia.

- Avoid using header and footers as they often cause parsing errors. 

- Pay attention to the format that you need to submit your resume. Usually, the tool will prompt for submission in a .doc format. 

- Use both the long-form and acronym version of keywords (e.g. “Master of Business Administration (MBA)” or “Search Engine Optimization (SEO)”) for maximum searchability. 

- Type in complete URLs of your website or portfolio as some systems only display URLs and drop the words that are linked.

Sprinkle them with keywords

You need to write your resume in the language the tool understands it. One of the ways is by mirroring the language by sprinkling the common keywords from the job description. Keywords are generally hard skills, job titles, locations, and work experience. Write impactful bullet statements by opening with action verbs, including keywords and quantifying your accomplishments.

To understand what keywords need to be included, scan the job description for skills that are often repeated and stated in the job requirements section. Including a Skill section on your resume is a great way to present the keywords.

It’s crucial to understand that once your resume gets past an ATS system, an actual human will be spending time to shortlist further. You might beat the ATS system but you also need to impress a recruiter and hiring manager by standing out.

ATS systems are here to stay so it’s important to spend some time understanding their functionalities to work together with it.