What is Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) and Why Should You Care?

Apr 4, 2020 | Job Search

The Basics of ATS 

Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) has become a standard screening tool for recruiters, staffing agencies and companies of all sizes. These programs help match job requisitions with experienced and favorable candidates. According to recruitingdaily.com, “One study found that 75 percent of big companies use an ATS before a resume gets in the hands of a recruiter.” When creating their programs, ATS developers are focused on being user friendly and adaptable. ATS software must be able to operate across a wide variety of platforms and devices in order to attract a broader audience.

How does it work?

ATS systems parse or separate out the data on a job seeker’s resume in order to easily filter for specific qualifications. As stated in hrotoday.com, “by tearing down organizational silos and keeping all aspects of talent recruitment, on-boarding, and management in one place, recruiting teams can source, brand, hire, and communicate across all workforce types and in multiple countries and time zones.” For each job posting, companies are likely to receive hundreds to thousands of resumes, creating a need to sort through them efficiently yet methodically to identify the best candidates. ATS provides companies the ability to have job criteria settings for the various positions they are hiring – they input the position’s desired attributes, which the software then uses to spider through the resumes and eliminate those that don’t match.

How can you stand out?

So how can you be found among hundreds and thousands of resumes? The answer is keywords. Keywords are typically related to industry, job title, education level, skills, awards, certifications and location. They are not soft skills such as “adaptable” or “team player.” Examples of relevant industry or job function keywords that are often used in ATS are: Marketing, Hospitality, Criminal Justice, and Technology, to name a few. ATS might also be set up to search for education levels such as BA, MBA, PHD, and trade or certificate programs. The software might also search for applicable Skills such as writing, negotiating, and risk management.
A good tip to remember when adding keywords to a resume, as highlighted on muse.com is to “use both the acronym and the spelled-out form of any given title, certification, or organization, so you’re set regardless of which format the ATS is looking for. For example: Certified Public Accountant (CPA).” Be sure to use well known, simple, easy to read font and writing documents, as some ATS programs have difficulty reading .pdf documents. When the ATS comes across a large number of keywords per resume for a particular job opening, that resume will be flagged for review.
This is why the importance of having a support team that knows how ATS functions is crucial. At ECP we can help filter through your personal keywords, build a resume that reflects the best information about you, and serve as your guide and support system through any form of career transition. Contact us today!