Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) The Computers Behind Your Resume Rejection
If you're applying to job after job with no response your application is likely not making it past the ATS. Let’s fix that and land some interviews!
What is an ATS?
ATS are becoming more and more popular. They are used by most large companies to narrow down the number of applicants that recruiters have to go through. Their job is to weed out applications that do not closely match the job posting. 98% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS. An estimate of 66% of large companies and 35% of small companies use them (CITE). ATS reject over 70% of resumes and they lack sophistication so you may be qualified but still not rank due to formatting issues (CITE).
ATS are a software that breaks down your resume and removes all the formatting and then ranks each application by those that match specific keywords and phrases. The applications that rank the highest will be seen by human eyes. So, if you are not getting any responses from your applications it is likely because it is not being seen.
For most job postings companies are receiving hundreds to thousands of applications. ATS save employers time as they reduce the number of resumes that need to be scanned manually.
How do ATS Work?
ATS sort resumes into the following categories:
Depending on which ATS a company is using they will rank the applications in different ways. Some of the ways that ATS rank applications are:
Points for Resume Keywords
Knockout Questions – are usually pass/fail questions that are used to automatically screen-out applicants. This can include whether or not you have a specific certification, whether you match specific availability, whether you have the right number of years of experience etc.
Points for Resume Keywords – recruiters can tell the ATS which keywords are most important and rank higher than the others. Then if your resume has these keywords it is likely to rank higher than others.
Resume Scoring – the ATS will parse your application text and compare it to the job posting. Recruiters will filter out the resumes that don’t score above a certain threshold.
How to Check if a Company is Using an ATS
If the job posting gives you an email address to send the application to it is likely not using an ATS since it is being sent directly to someone.
If you are not sure here is how to check:
Look at the employer’s job page. The logo of the ATS will usually be somewhere on the page. If there is a logo that is not the company you are applying to search for it and see if it comes up as “recruiting corporation, hiring software, HR solution, talent management” etc.
If your application includes filling out an online form then the information is usually being scanned by an ATS, especially if they ask you to type out your resume (instead of attaching a file).
Scroll to the bottom of the job posting sometimes it will say that the page is powered by an Applicant Tracking System.
Hover over the “apply” or “submit” buttons and check the destination URL at the bottom of your web browser. If the company is using recruiting software, the destination URL may show which one.
Do’s to get past the ATS:
Tailor your resume to each job you are applying for
Use critical keywords more than once
Use a word document
Stick to standard resume formats (reverse chronological)
Include as many relevant positions as possible
Make sure you have the following headings; skills, work experience, summary, and education
In every section include the company name, job title, start and end dates, responsibilities, and achievements
Keep the format simple. Use basic headings, simple bullet points, and basic fonts such as Calibri
Use keywords for hard and soft skills
Have a separate resume for human eyes