How to beat the Applicant tracking software filters

How to beat the Applicant tracking software filters

What is an applicant tracking system?

Before starting this topic, it is absolutely important to clarify one important detail. If your profile is not getting enough visits or you are not getting the job of your life, the ATS could be only the last of your issues. Your trouble might depend from at least other 10 parameters likeyour experience, the type of jobs you are applying to, the channles you are using and the quality of the material you are attaching to your application. Today we try to take in exam one of these parameters, your profile ATS readiness. An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software application that enables an organization to manage the recruitment process. The ATS assists in collecting and organizing candidate information, performing initial evaluations of resumes, and managing the interview process. By automating these tasks, the ATS speeds up and simplifies the recruitment process for both employers and job seekers. First, what is an applicant tracking system? An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software application that enables employers to collect and manage job applications. ATS software screens resumes and other job applications for key words and phrases related to the open position. The most common function of an ATS is to rank candidates by their likelihood of being a good fit for the position based on the skills and experience they list on their resume. The ATS also provides employers with access to applicant information, records applicants' responses and stores the applicant's resume. The ATS application may be used by the employer, or by a third party (i.e., an agency or labor broker). Applicants for jobs in the private sector are typically required to submit a resume, cover letter, and/or reference list to an employer. The ATS provides employers with access to applicant information, records applicants' responses and stores the applicant's resume within a guaranteed, safe and tracked GDPR compliant process.

What is an ATS resume?

In order to ensure that their recruitment process is as efficient as possible, many employers today use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to screen resumes. An ATS is a software application that scans resumes for keywords and other criteria that are specified by the employer. If your resume does not contain the right keywords or does not match the formatting requirements of the ATS, it will likely be filtered out and you will not be considered for the job.

Very similar rules apply also to the most modern and common job portals when a company needs to advertise a posting you might apply for. In that case, Advertiser, Salaries, Description of tasks, Requirements and Benefits are the main labels for several aggregator to spread the ads from one portal to multiple other ones connected thanks to APIs or EDIs. That's the case for instance of Facebook jobs, Google jobs, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, Nuevoo, Jooble and many more international portals.

When to use an ATS resume?

In today’s job market, it is more important than ever to have a resume that can get past the applicant tracking system (ATS). An ATS is a software program used by companies to screen resumes and determine which candidates to interview. If your resume does not show up in the ATS, you will not be considered for the job.

There are several ways to make your resume visible to the ATS. One way is to use a keyword-rich resume.

How to write an ATS-friendly resume and beat the applicant tracking system?

If you can't fit a previously written resume into your new application, you can use that as the basis for an ATS-optimized resume. It's especially helpful to use a blank document if you will be writing your first resume. Once you know how to write an effective resume, you can beat an ATS profile with formatting and compliance with ATS requirements.

1. Use an ATS-friendly resume template

Your resume entered into an ATS will be readable, and ATS will be able to push through your resume without getting stumped on any intricate formatting items. So be certain that you use a straightforward ATS resume template.

To be avoided: Symbols, Graphics, Tables, Headers and footers

Unfortunately, certain formatting tricks that look helpful to a human eye may make artificial intelligence programs uncertain. If you have used a table to organize lists, for example, you should remove it. Characters, logos, and tables may be tricky for artificial intelligence to navigate. Headers and footers can also cause glitches.

Where to put your name and contact details

Name and contact information as well as other details you want to include in the main body of your curriculum vitae should be placed where their scan and meaning are more easily observed.

Formatting and decorative elements

It can be hard to let go of the formatting elements you've refined, but if whatever the ATS can't process must be adjusted. That's the purpose of this excercise.

Is this the end of my beautiful resume?

Obviously, this ATS friendly version shouldn't be your only resume.

If you understand that a person will review your resume, not an ATS, feel free to send in more polished copy, with the font and formatting necessary to impress the hiring manager and the organization you are applying to. Maintain two distinct resumes: one for the ATS, and one for the hiring manager.

2. Use standard headings to label the sections

As agencies, this is something we are also required when we write job description for Job advertising portals. It is the new era of writing where everything should have standard labels to pass through some systems and let AI do its trick. Same is required by candidates. What does it mean?

For instance, It's important to call Your Work History "Work History" and your Education "Education".

Applicant Tracking Systems utilize section summaries to navigate your resume. To correctly segment your experience and achievements, the ATS requires the profiles in your resume to be easily understood. Personalizing headings can lead to confusion. For instance, calling your work experience "my achievements" or the "history of my success". As much as you might want to leave "Academic history" or "Professional courses" out of the header of your education section.

The standard resume heading are:

  • Contact details
  • Summary
  • Work Experience (or Work History)
  • Education
  • Skills

3. Using keywords in your resume

The main develpment in the last 10 years in terms of ATS systems is the ability to match 2 elements, a resume and job description, to consequentially define a match score, rate or percentage. For this reason, ATS platforms are within the hungriest platforms of keywords after Google and LinkedIn themselves.

An ATS's primary purpose is to determine which applicants make the most sense for a given position. Thus, your resume must not simply present skills that match the job description, but it must be tailored to each role that you apply to.

Consider carefully the job description when sending your resume. This job description will include all the responsibilities the job requires, the abilities and knowledge the company is looking for, and the skills necessary to do the job. These are the keywords that the automated tracking system will be looking for.

The importance of a common language within job descriptions and resumes:

Once you've determined which search phrases your work postings use, be sure you incorporate them in your résumé. Additionally, make sure your resume prominently displays the vocabulary phrases and incorporates them whenever possible. This is also a great excercise to have a deeper read and understanding of a job description. We do understand that in today's fast world you can't really read all of them and write a relevant CV per each but at the same time it is also true that you should have mapped the relevant industries you want to work in and adapt your CV always accordingly.

For instance, if a job descirption talks about Business Process Outsourcing, you might want to use exactly this term and not the acronym BPO. The meaning for a person is the same because humans are able to understand the context but ATSs, bots and other systems are instead more focused on exact matches. Keyword contextualization is currently the next big innovation and challenge of Machine Learning software professionals and the world of Artificial Intelligence. There are many ways that keywords can be contextualized, but they can also be represented as a Vector Space Model. The objective is to use a vector space model to predict the label of the input in such a way that the results are invariant with respect to changes in labelings.

Sounds complicated - right? This is why you should stick for the moment to exact matches to be 100% safe.

This means that probably in the next 5 years we will have to rewrite this article as these technologies will evolve.

What is the best place for keywords in a resume?

All parts of your CV are great chances for keywords but there is one that makes it very easy for you to specify them naturally: the skills' section.

The Skills section is often expressed in a bulleted list and is meant to organize your capabilities and create a true differentiator in terms of skills match. ATS systems won't recognise the industries you have been working at from the name of your previous employers and also won't understand how good is a university compared to others.

What really creates a unique profile is the job titles'combination and description together with the skills listed. That is why you should be really careful in listing your skills. Also the "listing" feature is a great way to draw machine attention to that specific section on individual terms.

There are some elements you should pay particular attention to:

You must not, however, stuff your resume full of the exact same word over and over, or disguise keywords in a secret font.

Utilize all keywords organically and naturally throughout your job descriptions and skills lists to avoid being marked as a spammer by automated ATS systems.

An ATS can allow you to be less "creative" when editing your resume. This is due to the fact that the ATS is an always parsing & matching bot rather than a person who's previously read thousands of CV getting bored and tired. An ATS program will allow you to make a straighter and simplier resume. In case you get then filtered, shortlisted or ready to be screened by a human, you might consider to provide an expanded resume, with no excesses.

4. The usage of acronyms and job titles for an ATS compliant resume

As already mentioned regarding the context of the keywords, same applies also to titles and acronyms.

Very hardly an ATS might understand and recognise acronyms if not written extensively.

This is especially truth for jobs in Sales, Marketing and IT or other technical fields.

Just imagine all the superacronyms in IT regarding programming languages such as "JS" for Javascript for instance or in marketing "SEO" for Search Optimization Engine. This is also valid for geographical business areas such as EMEA or EMEENA or CEE for Central Eastern Europe. Also don't forget to mention extensively the country names where HU or CZ or PL should be written as Hungary, Czech Republic or Poland in their longest versions.

Another big obstacle might be represented by synonyms:

Very often candidates write in good faith that they are proficient in handling databases trying to hint that their Excel skills are supernatural or that they can work with SQL or databases behind a CRM or an Ecommerce website. The result for this, after many ATS compatibility tests resulted catastrophic. None of these skills were recognised or matched with any of these job descriptions. Regarding this, the best is to be straightforward and simple and also don't get too concerned of "standard" labels.

5. Grammar and spelling, are they important for an ATS?

A human resources representative or manager may be ready to discard any resume that has grammatical errors, but with an ATS, your resume won't even make it to the beginning stages. In the event that a human can at least guess your writing intentions, an ATS will not recognize the keyword and most likely decline your application.

In this case we strongly advice to apply some human or machine assisted proofreading of the final results to make sure no human's or robot's eyes will spot any matching or quality inconsistency.

6. As in Sales, the follow-up is always essential

You wrote the best resume following the instructions and tips above, you submitted it and it went through.

Congratulations! What's next? Waiting in silence and hoping to be spotted it shouldn't be an option if not expressely requested (i.e. institutional, governmental or public bodies' job applications).

Take advantage of the opportunities for professional networking to show your enthusiasm regarding your potential opportunity. If your initial application includes an ATS, connecting with your interviewers, whether in person, by email, or through LinkedIn, will strengthen your application and improve your odds. As we always suggest, try to avoid excessive showcasing behaviours and be also understanding regarding the right moment to stand down. Also, especially before doing this step, be absolutely sure the company might have now or in the future an opportunity wehre your profile is a good match.

7. ATS and impostor syndrome boost

Especially in developing economies, medium companies and large corporations often deploy over-seniorized job descriptions because they are a copy paste or inspired by some more industrialised countries where the chance of finding very experienced candidates is usually more frequent. This reflects negatively in your "fight" against the ATS because you might result not having enough years of experience. On the other hand, be aware that HR professionals are very much aware of this issue and very often might prefer to contact less experienced candidates to "discover" a new talent and not to hire a person with an already too solid experience and working methodology. This is a perfect answer if your question is: I am not experienced enough should I apply anyway for the job? Generally yes, if the boundaries of the required experience are very close to your matured work history. Don't let an ATS scare you. Humans working behind robots are well trained in their failure.

Our ATS Formatting Tips

AT RED. Recruitment & Human Services we are supporting hundreds of candidates every month to achieve success and this goal passess also through some formal steps like preparing an "ATS friendly" resume. This is especially a good step when applying in the UK and Central Eastern Europe growing eonomies where the average experience of talents sourcers is very often combined with LinkedIn Premium Recruiter and ATS support.

Here are some of the key formatting tips to take away from our experience:

  • Instead of focusing on style, keep focus on function. You should make sure each bullet point in your resume clearly and compellingly highlights your strongest content. Good formatting is a great way to draw attention to your best content.
  • Ensure that the section headings remain recognizable to make it through the ATS application. Employ sections of recognizable headings so the ATS can properly read the information in your resume.
  • Jobscan or other webistes can be used to check how well your resume scans. If it doesn't scan well, create a text only version to submit via ATSs.

Interested in using Canva to prepare your resume? An ATS may or may not scan your resume, but several tests show that Canvas resumes' average match is 20% rating given by the ATS. Although there is some form of recognition, this still should encourage you that Canva resume templates shouldn't be used.

This doesn't mean Canva is not a great tool to wite your CV but it will be performing better on processes where an ATS is not in the middle within you and the hiring mnaagers.

Looking for ATS resume template examples?

At RED. Recruitment we work closely with some partnership platforms that enable you to create also for free a great resume wether you need an ATS friendly or a better looking more graphical CV.

The most valued and rated platform by our candidates is usually Visual CV. The main reason is the great ability to quickly collect several versions of your CV and adapt to several applications and templates, keeping all saves and history versioned in the cloud. You can use it for free with some limited functions or you can purchase one of their plans and use it until you will need it as a service. If you are wondering if it is worth to go PRO on Visual CV we can only strongly suggest you to explore their great premium templates and all the related functionalities of this plan. Also as a disclaimer, be aware that nowadays there is no valid freebie on the market that would let you shine as much as premium plans of this or similar platforms. You won't search for a job every year and to be absolutely sure you stand out within a pool of applicants is definitely worth 10-15 Euro a month.

If you feel like trying Visual CV PRO and also invite us for a coffee for no additional final costs, find below the referral links to the platform: