What happens when you apply through online job boards? How does an ATS affect you as a job seeker? Have you applied for countless jobs online but did not get shortlisted for any of those? Is ATS all Greek to you? Then you should read this article.
What is ATS
ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System. ATS is an automated system to filter qualified applicants according to the requirements of the employer. This system aids recruiters in finding suitable candidates based on keywords and phrases in the job description. It offers automatic rankings of the candidates based on keyword matches. Those with low scores do not qualify for the next level.
Moreover, recruiters use this software to stay organised & speed up the human resources, recruitment and, hiring process by transforming manually processed tasks into an automated process.
ATS provides various features for the recruiter. They are:
• Job posting
• Email marketing
• Resume importing
• Resume Parsing
• Candidate tracking
• Resume Storage
• Keyword Search
• Sends applicants automated messages (applications received, rejection letters)
• Gives online tests for candidates
• Schedules interviews
Therefore, recruiters find ATS a time saving, cost-effective solution and, a prompt way to present qualified candidates to the clients.
Benefits of ATS for the Job Seeker
Not only does the ATS save the time of the recruiter but it also saves the job seeker’s time by providing facilities to upload their contact details, work history, educational qualifications etc. directly from their LinkedIn, Indeed, etc. profiles when they are applying through the employer’s website. Moreover, some ATSs provide the facility to check the status of their applications online.
Drawbacks of ATS
ATS is not always beneficial to the recruiter. ATS works according to the keywords, and it does not read all fonts and formatting. Therefore, the recruiter can miss a potential candidate only because he or she has not used ATS-friendly formats, keywords and phrases as mentioned in the job description.
Research on ATS
1. According to research conducted by Jobscan, 98% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS.
2. Research conducted by Capterra found that,
• 75% of recruiters & talent managers use some form of recruiting or applicant
• 94% respond that software has enhanced their recruitment process
• Only 5% of HR experts who use software reflect that it has an adverse outcome
on their organisation.
3. According to the Glassdoor for employers’ statistics, on average, all corporate job openings attract 250 resumes but only 4 to 6 of these candidates are called for an interview, and only 1 of those is offered a job.
However, companies with less than fifty workers are much less likely to use ATS.
What Happens When You Apply Through Online Job Boards?
Did you know that you interact with an ATS whenever you submit a resume through an online form? The obstacle you face in your job search process is not only the recruiter but also the ATS.
As soon as you click the apply button your resume gets scanned through an ATS by the keywords and phrases. If your resume matches the job description of the job you are applying for, then your resume passes to the recruiter. Otherwise, it is stored in the database for future positions which are accessible to employers. Some job boards provide employers with the chance to search suitable candidates from their database using different search & filtering methods.
Applying for a job now is easy as one mouse click, but most of the recruiters say that 50% of candidates do not meet at least the basic requirements for the job. Job board sites such as Monster, Indeed, LinkedIn, Bayt, Glassdoor, Naukri, etc. let job seekers apply for a job using a saved resume.
Have you experienced knockout questions with small checkboxes or short answers when you are applying online? If any of the questions were answered unsatisfactorily, the resume is rejected by the ATS. It is a straightforward way to reduce the number of applications received for a particular position.
I know how you feel now, sounds as if it is unfair at your end as job seekers. But that is how the world has changed, technology has developed, and business has transformed. You need to beat the robot, but how? Let me explain it to you.
25 Tips to Optimise Your Resume to Beat the ATS
You need to pass the initial screening by the ATS before your resume passes to a human being. Therefore, you need to consider both parties when writing a resume.
Following tips will help you to initially pass through the ATS and to attract the attention of the recruiter.
2. Avoid Headers and Footers in your resume. ATS does not read details in the headers and footers.
3. Do not include your Contact Information in the header or paste your contact details like a picture in the header.
If you include your contact information in the header, the ATS will mark your contact information as missing.
4. Job title plays a major role when dealing with an ATS. Make sure that the professional title of your resume and the title of the job you are applying for are the same. Recruiters sometimes filter by job title from their database.
If the recruiter wants to find out Charted Accountants from New York, they will use the same search term in their database. ATS has a Boolean search feature and filters.
5. Include keywords and Phrases as highlighted in the job advertisement.
Some ATSs will rank candidates higher if a keyword is stated more than once but do not repeat the same word, vary your choice of words.
Do not stuff keywords in your resume, naturally, use keywords.
Some ATS brands have the feature to track synonyms and plural versions of a keyword, but I recommend to use the same terms as the job advertisement because some recruiters are still using old versions of ATS brands.
If a Job role requires experience in “Performance Management”, but in your resume, you have mentioned this experience as “Performance Appraisal”, it will not pass the initial screening. Therefore, it is better to change this term in your current resume to “Performance Management”.
6. Take advantage of the Core Competencies section to highlight your skills. Remember to add all relevant skills that you have figured out from the job description. Please include only the competencies you genuinely possess.
Be creative to fill-up missing skills from Transferable Skills (abilities and knowledge acquired through personal experience such as schooling, jobs, classes, hobbies, sports etc.).
Be alert with the frequency of skills found in the job description and add skills that appear most often.
Do not miss to include the crucial Hard skills (skills learned through training) that you possess. Give the priority in your resume to hard skills than Soft Skills (according to the online Oxford dictionary soft skills are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people).
7. Do not ever lie or exaggerate. You can lie to the system by invisible white fonts but remember new ATSs nowadays highlight the keywords in yellow. Recruiters know all the tricks job seekers are using.
8. Look at the employer’s website to be familiar with the key terms they are using. When you are familiar with the keywords that the employer is looking for, you can tailor your resume according to that. For more details, please refer my article on resume tailoring.
9. Focus on your achievements and use results-based language and avoid using task-based language. Write your accomplishments in measurable terms rather than listing out duties you carried out.
10. Use the following date format for your work experience section. Remember to check years of work experience required.
MM/YY – 02/19
MM/YYYY – 02/2019
MONTH/YYYY – FEB 2019 or February 2019.
11. Do not use graphics. Keep it simple. A creative resume might be attractive, but it may get blocked out from the ATS.
12. Make sure your resume is free of grammar mistakes & misspelling.
13. Apply for jobs that align with your experience level.
14. Use common fonts and fonts that have enough white space. ATS will not recognise uncommon fonts and convert your resume to blank boxes.
Do not use more than two fonts.
Some candidates try to put more information on the resume by using small font size, this will make the resume overcrowded and difficult to read. The ideal font size is between 10-12.
According to resume and career experts, the following fonts are appropriate for a resume: Calibri, Cambria, Garamond, Didot, Georgia, Helvetica, Arial, Book Antiqua and, Trebuchet MS.
15. Keep clear breaks between sections that make the resume easy to read.
16. The file type is vital because ATS does not read some file types. Most of the experts in ATS recommend .docx or .pdf files for your resume.
17. Avoid the use of too many bullets points.
18. Avoid the use of abbreviations.
19. Use standard resume headings because ATS will often parse your resume into sections. Please refer to my previous article on Steps to wring a resume.
20. Follow instructions. Upload the relevant documents as instructed in the correct document type (PDF, Word doc. Etc.)
21. Align your text to the left and set 1-inch margins on all sides.
22. Avoid the use of complex symbols for bullet points in your resume.
23. The perfect length of a resume is one page. However, for seasoned professionals, two pages are acceptable.
24. A perfect resume should include links to LinkedIn URL along with Personal Websites or Blogs or online portfolio.
25. It is fine to Bold section headings but do not overuse emphasis. Use only Bold or Italic for emphasis but do not underline words.