How do those Application Tracking Systems work?

Do you ever wonder why you never got called for that interview even though you were more than qualified?

Blame the Application Tracking System (ATS) – a program that handpicks applicants for a position based on their resume.

Mind you – this is a program, not a person. And, as we are all aware, technology makes mistakes.

Application tracking systems are very flawed. If a job seeker’s resume is not formatted the right way and does not have the right keywords and phrases, ATS will misread and rank it as a bad match for the job being applied for, regardless of any qualifications you may have.

Most people believe that using cliché keywords for a specific job puts them at a higher risk of getting their application pulled by ATS.

This is not true.

Most application tracking systems search for uniqueness in a keyword – one that is not overused.

ATS then ranks applications based on how closely the applicant’s resume matches each keyword and phrase and how many keywords or phrases the resume has.

Now you may be wondering how exactly your resume looks when it is viewed by a human official. When a recruited views a resume the applicant tracking system has ranked it as a good match, they do not see the resume that was submitted by a candidate.

Instead, the recruiter sees the information that ATS pulled from the candidate’s resume into a database.

ATS Resume

To make sure this does not happen to you, you need to format your resume according to ATS.

Follow these five tips to increase your chances of getting pulled by an application tracking system.

1. Never send a resume as a PDF: ATS cannot structure PDF documents. Your resume will probably be overlooked by ATS altogether.

2. Don’t include graphics or tables: ATS cannot read graphics and they misread labels. As we read tables to the left and right, ATS reads them up and down.

3. Feel free to submit a longer resume: It is rule of thumb for most resumes to be about a page or two long, but ATS just doesn’t care how long your resume is. It will be scanned regardless of length, plus if it is longer, it will give more for ATS to read and match to the job you are applying for…plus, more room for keywords!

4. Call your work experience, “work experience”: There are many different titles for “work experience” including “professional experience” or “career achievements”. ATS might skip over it because it doesn’t recognize those titles.

5. Do not start your work experience with dates: Start with the employers name, your title and then the dates. ATS looks for company names first.

Gabrielle Burgess Smith
Vice President of Public Relations
EMU PRSSA
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