Applicant Tracking Systems what they are and how to beat them?

  | James Innes

As often discussed, busy recruiters typically spend less than 30 seconds reviewing a CV before deciding whether to bin it or move it to the “worth a second look” pile. However, for many candidates, particularly those applying to larger firms, there is an additional hurdle to pass before your CV even gets to a live person – the Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

An Applicant Tracking System is a software application which handles the recruitment process by sorting through hundreds, or even thousands, of CVs to determine which are the best fit for a particular position. An ATS looks for keywords relevant to the job or position. Employers use them to save time and effort during the recruitment process – it helps them stay organised and to communicate directly with candidates.

When you submit your CV through an ATS, it will be stored in it database. Recruiters then will search for keywords pertinent to the potential job opportunity. The more keywords your CV contains, the higher the ATS will rank you in its search results.

As with any Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), keyword maximisation and matching are critical for success. The best way to get an ATS to notice your CV is to try to anticipate which keywords the ATS and recruiters will use to identify likely candidates. This means the candidate should thoroughly research the role for which they are applying, in order to determine which are likely keywords applicable to the position.

Some candidates may consider, at this stage, turning to a Professional ${cv) Writing Service, such as $ {domain}, as they have extensive experience in tailoring CVs for ATS, and understand key word optimisation. Based on their experience, there are some important tips which will help in producing a CV which should pass an ATS.

·       Use keywords wisely. Putting the most important words near the top of your $ {cv} will increase the chances of your document being ranked highly by the system. Also, try and sprinkle other keywords throughout your CV, without making it appear too contrived or illogical.

·       Be specific. Set out exactly what you have done, the roles you have held, and the skills you possess. If you use acronyms, spell out what they mean.

·       Use a simple layout. ATS systems cannot understand graphs and they cannot read tables easily. Use a simple professional font such as Arial or Times New Roman, and keep it black and white.

·       Avoid the pdf format. Many systems cannot cope with a pdf document – use Microsoft Word format to be on the safe side.

·       Check your spelling, grammar and punctuation. This is not just for the Applicant Tracking System. Poor spelling and grammar are likely to get your CV rejected by any human who reviews it, whilst the system may struggle to make sense of a document full of such errors.

·       Use a sensible file name. Choose something that clearly references your name and type of document so that it can easily be traced within the database.

Applicant Tracking Systems are here to stay, whether candidates like them or not. Once the preserve of the large firms only, smaller companies are starting to use them as they have become more affordable and flexible. Therefore, for many candidates, it is important they have a CV which optimises the keywords which an ATS will scan when processing their database. Research the job bad company carefully, and tailor your CV accordingly. That way you maximise your chances of not only passing the ATS and getting to a real person but also of convincing them you are worth putting on the interview shortlist.

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