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Expert Tips

What you need to know about applying for jobs:

Applicant Tracking Systems: Breaking through the invisible wall

Written by Sarah Plaut

6 February 2019

What is an Applicant Tracking System? 

ATS is a type of software used to rate candidates when resumes are submitted through online applications. Almost every online application process includes the use of ATS as the first tool for weeding candidates out. 

How does it work? 

The ATS scans each resume searching for key words and phrases from the job description. Highly qualified candidates may not be recognized as such if the ATS algorithm does not find the right key words on your resume. ATS ranks candidates from most qualified to least, and the ranking determines if your resume is forwarded to Human Resources. 

What can you do to increase your chances?

The most important thing to remember is that your resume needs to be tailored to the job you want. The industry terminology and key words need to match the job description in order for the software to recognize you as highly qualified. The software will rank you amongst other candidates, so formatting your resume to minimize employment gaps and focus heavily on the most relevant work history is essential. 

What NOT to do:

Do NOT use red, yellow, purple, or white font.

Do NOT use images on your resume.

Do NOT use complex tables.

The ATS software is picky. A growing trend in recent years has been the use of colorful, column-filled resumes. Those resumes are aesthetically pleasing, but the software does not recognize the content.