Is Your CV Being Overlooked By an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

JobNow Contributor
October 26, 2021

Applicant tracking system


Applying for a new job is never easy. Businesses known for employee satisfaction get mountains of applications for every open position. This has become even trickier thanks to the digital age. Anyone can fill out a job application online within minutes and send it directly to the company they want to work for. Firms effectively use an applicant tracking system to vet people to ease a recruiter's burden. Therefore, you should always know how to beat applicant tracking systems to get your resume ahead of a hiring manager.

Here are the best tips on how to prevent your CV from being overlooked by applicant tracking systems ATS. Then you can score that in-person interview for your dream job in no time.


What Is an Applicant Tracking System?

The applicant tracking system that your resume will go through acts as a border between you and a recruiter. Businesses use this software to vet the most qualified candidates from the numerous applications they receive.

If your resume and cover letter are successfully optimized to get through an online applicant tracking system, then your CV will get into the hands of the person who chooses people for face-to-face interviews.


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How to Beat Applicant Tracking Systems?

If you have just applied for a new job on a company's portal, their chosen applicant tracking system will then scan your CV and cover letter. The software will look for keywords that match the job description posted by the company.

Your resume is also digitally recorded and stored in the databases of all the companies you apply to. This is so hiring managers and human resources can contact you in the future if you are suitable for other roles they have in the business.

Firms enjoy using this software because it ranks applications according to how good a match is for a specific job. However, 90% of companies Harvard University surveyed about their use of ATS's believed high-quality candidates were being weeded out because they did not meet all the criteria in the job description.


Best Practices

Since many people are applying for the same job you want, you need to increase your chances of getting noticed. The first step to getting through top applicant tracking systems is to only apply for the jobs you qualify for. Be selective about the roles you are applying for at the same company. Companies always post multiple positions on their own portals or recruiter websites. It will look unprofessional if you apply for an accounting position and then a Marketing Assistant role on the same day.

Applying for the most relevant job that matches your skills and education is easiest to get through an online applicant tracking system. This is because all the data gets stored in company databases. A firm's hiring manager can access the system to view your application history. They can also see how many active applications you have on their company's database.

The more selective you are about the jobs you apply for, the more serious you look in the hiring manager's eyes. Then they will know that you are determined and passionate about a role instead of treating job hunting as a lucky numbers game.


Master Keywords

Applicant tracking systems ATS actively scan every resume for relevant keywords. When you look at a job post that catches your interest, ensure that you pick out keywords that stand out. These should be naturally highlighted in your resume when you explain your education and work experience. If you have a lot of powerful keywords that pique the tracking system's interest, then you can rest assured that your CV will go directly to a hiring manager for further review.

If you struggle to find the essential keywords from job descriptions, you can use the certifications, terminology, and education requirements mentioned in the post. Check to see how many of these you already have in your resume or have space to add without compromising professionalism. Then you should apply for the job and hope the applicant tracking system is pleased with your natural keyword density.


Connect Keywords to Unique Experiences

The applicant tracking system will only send your CV to human resources if you have enough keywords that do not look as though you purposely clogged them into your sentences. These keywords need to connect to your experiences and actual skills in the workplace. Go over your entire job history and clearly explain why you are the perfect person for the company you are applying for.

Always use basic language in your resume and cover letter to avoid confusing the online applicant tracking system. Use simple terms that the software understands, and maintain the same tone to explain your skills and experiences during an interview.


Include Acronyms

Not all applicant tracking systems will have the same settings and bypasses. One company's software may go through someone's entire CV looking for acronyms. Or it may only care about phrases that are entirely written out. For instance, if you are an SEO expert, you may benefit from writing it out on your CV as a "Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Expert."

This way, you give these systems both options of recognizing the acronym and the complete form of your job title.


Tailor for Each Role

It does not matter if you are applying for two of the same job roles. It would be best if you consistently tailored your resume for each application. There are always some differences in the job descriptions. Even if the responsibilities seem almost identical, you boost your chances when you tailor your resume to every specific job. Include more terminology and relevant keywords to get through the tracking system.

Before rushing into applying, take the time to glance over the company's website. This will tell you all about their values, so you can incorporate their favourite terms into your cover letter and CV to stand out from the crowd.


Beat the ATS Today

Now that you know how an applicant tracking system works, it is your responsibility to tailor your resume for every job application. Even if two roles seem identical, you should still change some keywords around to improve your chances of getting through top applicant tracking systems.