An Applicant Tracking System (ATS), also known as Talent Acquisition and Management Products (TAMP), is a software system that provides recruiters with a means to organise, track, and filter applicant data for a vacant position. It’s likely that you’ve already come into contact with an ATS. Online surveys, questionnaires, and assessments are systems that track key indicators in your application and decide based on input data on whether or not your resume is worth a recruiter’s time.
ATS systems are known to be inconsistent and ultimately inaccurate, making the job seeking process even harder for those who are unaware these systems are in place that allow businesses to fast-track their recruitment process. The chances of a qualified candidate being filtered out of the application process simply because the resume doesn’t align with the data that the ATS system is scanning for is as likely as the system rejecting an unsuitable resume based simply on how things are phrased and formatted.
So, what are the best ways to ensure that your resume will make it past an ATS system and into a recruiter’s hands?
1. Key Words
This is one of the main aspects of beating an ATS, because it relies on tracking information in your resume that matches the data the system has been instructed to scan for. The best way to do this is by making sure the language of your resume aligns with the position description.
Look for key words such as ‘managed,’ ‘sales experience,’ or ‘team leadership’ and make sure that your key skills and career responsibilities cover areas using those exact words. This is especially relevant for government or large industry companies, which use ATS systems to filter out thousands of applications into a selection pool for recruiters.
2. Typeface and Font
Believe it or not, the typeface you use is important when it comes to beating an ATS. Serif fonts, such as Times New Roman, have ‘serifs’ added to the letters which are key aspects of its typeface. These serifs, however, don’t always align with an ATS system’s internal coding because it is searching for exact matches. For example:
Notice the serifs on certain letters – S, T, R, B? Those serifs can confuse the software, as it cannot determine if the letters match the data it is seeking. For that reason, it is important to use a simple and plain typeface and font to ensure that an ATS system can accurately scan your resume for key words.
Format is not only important for beating an ATS, but also for attracting – and maintaining – the gaze of a recruiter. Your resume should be neatly formatted with appropriate section headings (qualifications, experience, education) which allows an ATS system to track relevant data.
Likewise, your resume should be formatted in a Microsoft Word document. ATS systems are advancing and becoming more capable of scanning PDFs, but there is more opportunity for sections of a PDF document to be missed during the scan.
Moreover, once you get your resume passed the ATS, you want to make sure that you can hold the attention of a recruiter, who spends an average of six seconds deciding on whether or not your resume marks you as a viable candidate for the vacant position.