What is Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and how to beat it?

Do you sometimes wonder how, out of 10 job application you send out, only a few or not even one is successful? Well, we might know the reason behind this problem and you probably never thought of it. It is not that you don’t have the required skills or experience needed for the job, but the reason may be the Applicant Tracking System, also known as ATS!

What is ATS?

Now you are probably wondering what that is. ATS or Applicant Tracking System is a software commonly used by many employers to try and save time. Nobody likes to go through a pile of resumes and read it from top to bottom. For that reason, someone decided to create a special software and help employers be more efficient in reviewing job applications. It is a database of all resumes sent by potential employees and can supposedly be really helpful. But the question is, can artificial intelligence actually triumph over an actual person?

How does ATS work?

This software is based on keywords recognition. When a resume is sent, before going to an actual person to be read, it is scanned and the future of that resume can go 2 ways. It either has a sufficient number of keywords and it is accepted, or it is rejected without being read. Not that fair, right?

What are the keywords?

The keywords that ATS is seeking are closely related to the job title and the position you are applying for. To explain it more, if the job title is for a Medical engineer, both of these words are keywords, but it doesn’t end here. The requirements for the position, such as adaptability or proficiency in Microsoft Office are also considered as keywords by the software.

Every skill and achievement mentioned in a job advertisement is placed in the ATS software and they can be changed for every new job your employer lists. Maybe you have never wondered before why there sure many ‘Apply’ buttons, one for each position?

Image source: Jobscan.

Is there a way to beat the Applicant Tracking System?

ATS is commonly used so you can’t avoid it, but there actually is a way to beat it. You know the job title you are applying for, right? Well, make sure to write it down somewhere since it is going to be useful when you customize your resume. The next step is research. Read about the skills and abilities required for the position and don’t just glance at them. Focus and invest your time wisely in this step of your plan to beat ATS. Now, when you know target job title and requirements needed, you are ready to begin your battle.

Open a previously written resume and customize it by emphasizing strong sides listed in the job advertisement. These strong sides represent keywords and they are your secret weapon which will help you beat ATS. You know how it works and what it is that it is looking for, so why not use it to your advantage? For a machine to simply take your chance of getting a position you know you qualify for is not really fair.

Image source: globaldigitalcitizen.org

To get to know your ‘enemy’ and its weaknesses is a big asset. You now know the reason why you don’t receive many interview invitations when sending out your resume. It is not because a potential employer did not find you fit for the position, but because a software decided so for him/her. From now on, you know how to change it and make sure your resume comes into the hands of a real person who will then fairly decide whether you can be an asset to the team or if there is something better waiting for you.

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