What Is ATS Resume and How It Affects You

Big companies receive hundreds upon hundreds of resumes for every open job position. Everybody wants to work for such a company so the high number of applicants is understandable.

While candidates are only interested in getting an interview opportunity, companies will be more inclined to find the best person for the job while cutting the time of the search. Taking too much time to process all the applications can be problematic especially if there are lots of open positions.

So, what do employers do in such situations? They use tools and other software systems.

One of the best types of software used in such situations is ATS or applicant tracking system.

What is ATS?

Applicant tracking systems or ATS are a type of software used by companies to sort, collect, rank and process all the job applications that they received during a job search. A manager can use it to easily access various resumes and select those worthy of their attention. This software makes sure that the candidates with the best skills and work experience get on the top of the list.

ATS really shines in terms of efficiency. Something that would otherwise take you hours and hours to process can now be done within minutes. But it’s not only about creating the lists. ATS can also help you find the best candidates without even opening their resumes. Of course, HR departments use it more as a guide during the selection process as they still have to open and read better applications. Even though technology is there to make things simple, content still has to be judged by a human.

So how popular is this software?

While they can be used by any company, ATS are especially useful to big corporations. For every job opening, they will get thousands of applications making the whole process almost impossible if you do it by checking every CV. Around 95% of Fortune 500 companies rely on some type of ATS during their selection process.

Today, more and more organizations are using them to automate their processes. Besides big corporations, they are also very important for HR agencies as well as companies that have a high fluctuation of the workforce. Keep in mind there are various applicant tracking systems so they will have a different performance. You can find lots of reviews online that will help you find the top software for your company.

How does an ATS work?

Recruiters use ATS as a good way of eliminating bad candidates. Of course, these programs do make lists of the best candidates but they are primarily a way of eliminating the bad ones.

These tools work by assessing the text within a resume. Most of the focus is placed on particular keywords. Of course, the set of keywords changes with the industry. If your resume has lots of these phrases, it automatically becomes more relevant and is placed higher within rankings. By performing this task, the software is able to quickly downgrade and thus eliminate those that don’t fit the requirements for the position.

However, things are not always so perfect with these programs. Due to this reliance on particular phrases, it is easy to omit candidates that are more than perfect for an open position. So, if you’re a candidate looking for a new job opportunity, you should definitely get used to this software as your employment may depend on whether or not you can pass it.

How to create an ATS-friendly resume?

As already mentioned, not only do you have to be aware that applicant tracking systems exist but you also have to confirm your resume to them.

Here are some tips you can use to make your resume more ATS-friendly:

  • Using the right type of a file

Before we get to phrasing and format, we need to mention the file type that you should be using. Some companies may specify the file type required, however, most of them will not mention it within their job ad. While PDF might seem like the right solution, it is usually bad for the ATS. Instead, it is much better to go with Word which is much simpler and easier for the tool to dissect. At the same time, the plain-text format needs to be avoided. Not only is it bad for the tool but it will also leave a bad impression on a potential employer.

  • Using keywords to your advantage

We already mentioned how important keywords are to these programs. As software cannot fully comprehend the meaning behind sentences, it relies on the existence of particular phrases and words to understand the content. Perhaps the best example comes in a form of “Skill” section. For certain jobs, the employee may look for a specific type of skills. For example, an engineer has to be meticulous, precise, punctual in order to perform their job correctly. If you have none of these phrases, you will be down-ranked by the algorithm as a less relevant resume. The best way to determine which phrases and words are relevant to your industry is to check other resumes can find online. Cross-reference them and try to find patterns. Check which terms tend to repeat themselves and use them for your own resume.

  • Be careful with images and graphics

There are lots of creative resumes out there. Unfortunately, more often than not, these applicants don’t get the job. So, what’s the issue? They might have used images, graphics or charts to rely on important information. If your most important skills, work experience and achievements are placed on an image, there is a good chance that tools will not be able to read them. In fact, you should consider this as a high possibility. Images are seen differently by programs and if you place the most important information on them, the ATS may perceive your resume as a blank page.

  • Using a proper design and format

There is a good reason why people usually use the same, traditional formats – they work. Intricate design scrambled information and a special type of phrases can all play a joke on you. Always go with the simplest, most trustworthy version of a resume. Keep in mind that this will be good not only for systems but also for recruiters reading your resume. It is much easier to read a CV if it’s presented in a neat, clean format that is both readable and simplified when it comes to terminology.

  • Using simple bullet points

Again, it is much better to go with traditional bullet points, in the form of dots, than to experiment with a different option. First and foremost, this will be good for potential employers as they will be able to read your resume more easily. It will also play a role with a software allowing it to check your information without a hitch.

  • Header and footer can pose some issues

According to research, both header and footer can pose a problem for ATS. Some tools are unable to properly read what was written in these sections. Inadvertently, some of the more important information may be omitted which you definitely don’t want. Even though you can use them for some minor information (mainly for recruiter’s eyes), make sure to avoid putting your most valuable data in header or footer sections. 

As you can see, the optimization of a resume comes down to using simple solutions.

If you’re interested in successful candidates who landed jobs in big companies, you might as well go ahead and check their CVs. You will likely see some valuable tricks which you can start using for your own resume and applications.

To wrap it up

Now, you might feel irritated by this.

Lots of people are trying to be creative with their resumes going to extreme lengths to create interactive and visually appealing content. However, unless you know the recruiter or you know that a person will actually have time to check your application, it is much better to go with a plain, simple solution for your ATS resume.

In the end, if you’re unable to pass the software check, you will never appear on a big company’s shortlist. So, make sure to follow each advice presented in this article and this will exponentially increase your odds of getting a call for an interview.

If you feel overwhelmed by all this, just give us a call and our coach experts will be more than happy to give you a hand and answer all your questions in detail.


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