5 Tips You Have To Know About ATS As A Job Seeker
Rene Cheng
1/28/2021

ATS, what is this “thing”? It is called the Applicant Tracking System that makes the recruiter’s life easier. So, what exactly do job seekers need to know about ATS, and how does it work? In today’s technological age, the recruitment process utilized applicant tracking systems to improve time-to-hire while maintaining applicants’ quality. It is to make sure your information can easily be searched with automated and manual searches, Marilyn Maslin, the Chief Job Search & Branding Strategist at Resume Footprint. In ATS, recruiters could manage a large number of applications and collaborate with other recruiting teams. ATS parses, evaluates, and routes an applicant almost instantly, and passing an ATS means your application is identified as a match for the job. 
Yikes, Maybe it is time for you to rewrite your resume to impress a system! 
 
Now, you know what ATS stands for and how it makes recruiters’ work more manageable. You may question, how can I optimize my resume that ATS understands? Here are the following tips you should consider if you would like to pass through ATS. 

Tips on How to Beat ATS
 
The key to pass through ATS is to make the system understand your resume. 
 
TIP 1: Don't eliminate yourself with your response to screening questions
To manage a large volume of applications, ATS provides easy screening of candidates. Nine out of ten applications you fill out may ask you questions like “Are you over 18 years of age?” or “Are you legally authorized to work in the U.S?” or more. Recruiters create these questions, and if you did not answer the expected response to these questions. ATS will most likely not transfer your resume to the consideration pile, said Naz Ahm, the Founder of StudioGrowth. Therefore, try not to eliminate yourself with your response to a screening question and answers them strategically. 

TIP 2: Make sure the formatting is right 
If there are more applications for a particular position, the more likely recruiters will use automated screening to narrow the search and find the best candidates. While most of the time, ATS screens out candidates who fail to meet at least one of the qualifications, there are also qualified applicants who get screened out because of the resume format. There are times when the applicant may use non-traditional or overly complicated formatting of the resume. Darrell Rosenstein, the Rosenstein Group’s Founder, also mentions if a candidate sends the wrong file or even gets creative with section headers. This might be the cause of not passing ATS. Some ATS-friendly fonts include Arial, Times New Roman, Helvetica, etc. Darrell also suggests saving your resume in Docx. format unless the application system requests something unique. 

TIP 3: Keywords 
The President of MJW Careers, Matthew Warzel, explains job seeker’s best BET is to play it safe by using relevant keywords that match the job description. You probably heard of someone copying and pasting the job description to their resume. Now, I am not saying you shouldn’t, but you shouldn’t be applying for this job if you don’t have the qualifications. However, you may look at the job details and connect the dots to your resume and qualifications. Use similar keywords from the job description on your resume to increase exposure in ATS. The Core Competency Section is where you should focus your main content with buzzwords as it is one way that recruiters use to find you as a candidate. If you are unsure whether you have the right keywords, parse your resume through JobSeer and receive a match score to see if you are ready to send your resume. 
 
TIP 4: Avoid images, charts, graphics
So, there are probably some job seekers out there who like to get creative with their resumes (me too, so don’t worry, you are not the only one). Surprisingly, there are times where ATS doesn’t accept images, charts, or graphics. Anjela Mangrum, the President of Mangrum Career Solutions, mentions when ATS cannot correctly scan such layouts. I understand we probably want to “stand out” from all the other candidates’ resumes, but if you go too far, you might lose a chance of getting this job even if you are qualified. So, for your best bet? Stick with traditional formatted resumes. 
 
TIP 5: Timing & Whom To Reach Out?
Timing?! It is a thing when you are applying for jobs? Apparently, yes. Time is critical when posting on social media for the highest engagement, but it is also essential for job applications! The Director of International Recruiting at Shortlister, Pamela Illieva, provided a “WHAT?!” tip for my article (Thanks, Pamela). Recruiters love to review resumes during their morning coffee. So, you know what to do now. Apply during the morning! Pamela says the best time to send out an application and get a recruiter's attention is when they check ATS for updated applications while drinking their morning coffee. I mean, it kind of makes sense, right? 


Now, who should you reach out if you want to know more about the job? You should reach out to the recruiter who recruits this position. If you reached out to a recruiter who isn’t recruiting for this specific position, they would most likely ignore your message. To find out who is the recruiter behind the job application, use JobSeer to discover the recruiter’s emails for connections or employee’s emails for possible referrals. 


Find Out Your Personalized Match Score With JobSeer
Now you know how ATS works and the reason why you keep getting rejection emails. Time to edit your resume (myself included)! Tailor your resume to an ATS-friendly format and increase your chances of getting a job. Don’t let the system kick you out because of these reasons. Best of luck!


Special Thanks To: 
Marilyn Maslin, Chief Job Search & Branding Strategist at Resume Footprint 
Naz Ahm, Founder of StudioGrowth
Darrell Rosenstein, Founder of Rosenstein Group
Matthew Warzel, President of MJW Careers, 
Anjela Mangrum, President of Mangrum Career Solutions
Pamela Illieva, Director of International Recruiting at Shortlister


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