Looking for a job? Then chances are you’ll come in contact with an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Nearly all major corporations now use some form of ATS to help automate the recruiting process. Even small to medium companies have begun relying on ATS applications through Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings.
In today’s economy, employers can easily receive thousands of applicants for a single job opening. An ATS is a software application designed to handle job applications and manage resume data. Its primary function is to provide a central location and database for the company’s recruitment efforts, allowing human resources to track applicants from their initial contact all the way through the hiring process.
For the employer, an ATS makes it easier to monitor and coordinate job openings and manage the recruitment process. Jobs are posted online and then data is either collected internally from applications or extracted from applicants on job boards. Resumes and applications are stored inside the secure database, allowing for searching, matching, and routing of applicants. This allows for faster and more reliable hiring decisions.
Job seekers benefit from an ATS because it allows them to search open positions by location and entity and upload required materials. They can even check their status electronically. Applying for positions is even easier for internal applicants because the system automatically adds information the company already has on file. Once a positions has been filled, the system automatically removes the posting, eliminating endless guessing over whether a candidate is still in the running.
Here are a few tips for increasing your chances of getting a job by optimizing your resume for an ATS search:
• Be Simple — Steer clear of a highly formatted resume. Most ATS will scramble the tables, graphs, and graphics you worked so hard to compose. Instead, stick to a simple format. If you feel you simply must exhibit your creative flair, save a highly formatted resume as a .txt (ASCII) file.
• Be Concise – Avoid the temptation to add all kinds of extra headings. Most ATS will only recognize the most common headings: Work Experience or Professional Experience, Education, and Professional Summary. Other headings won’t be stored, so include certifications, community activities, publications, and the like under the Education heading.
• Be Uncommon – Go beyond the common keywords for your position, level, function, or industry. Many ATS will peg uncommon, unique-to-the-job-posting words or phrases as keywords.
• Be Complete – Don’t rely on acronyms or abbreviations alone. If you mean to say “unique selling points,” don’t say USP. Use the full language. Also, don’t forget to mention where you heard about the job. An ATS will track sources. Some, such as employee referrals, are ranked higher than others.