How Applicant Tracking Software Works And How To Improve Your Resume


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Globalization has opened up opportunities for both employers and employees to seek and connect with each other beyond traditional boundaries and international borders. With 98% of Fortune 500 companies using applicant tracking systems (ATS) for most of their talent finding and recruitment process, as large corporations, you need to do the same.

However, for starters, it may become hard to distinguish between different ATS, or even CRM tools without having a fundamental knowledge of them. In this article, we’ve discussed all ATS and the work process behind them. Moreover, as a bonus, we’ve discussed what you need to do as an applicant to optimize your resume for ATS.

What Is an Applicant Tracking System Software

Large corporations hire hundreds of employees each cycle to sustain and grow. This process, although critical, can be time and resource-consuming on a massive scale. To minimize that, they employ application tracking software to find the right talent(s) from the mountain of applications.

The applicant tracking system uses data algorithms to filter, sort, and manage resumes based on the requirement of the recruiter. These tools are self-customizable and can look for candidates based on the predefined parameters set by their employer.

However, ATS is everything but an employee management system. Although some of the providers offer management functionality, it’s not the norm. You need specific CRM tools for that.

How Does Applicant Tracking System Work?

5 basic steps are followed by ATS to track the applications.

  1. Requisition is fed into the ATS system with key details like skills, experience, job title, and tangential keywords.
  2. ATS uses this information to create a number of ideal candidates that fit the description.
  3. The job requirement is posted to the marketing channels and website for ATS to catch the applications.
  4. The ideal profiles are used as parameters to filter, sort, and rank the resumes to identify qualified candidates.
  5. Hiring managers move these candidates to the next step of the process.

The requisition data is the most essential part of operating an applicant tracking system. If your hiring manager isn’t capable of identifying the key skills or experience that the job role may require, the ATS will never be able to do its job effectively.

For instance, a car dealer requires a sales candidate who has experience in the automobile industry. But, if the hiring manager sets the experience criteria to sales without specifying the exact requirement, the applicant tracking system software will sort candidates who have the most experience in any sales-related industry.

Difference Between ATS and CRM

A major disadvantage of using applicant tracking systems is that it only sorts the talents that have already applied for the job. And as online job applications are easier to participate in, unqualified candidates can submit their resumes—making it hard for the algorithms to rank talents if enough applications aren’t uploaded.

CRM, on the other hand, searches and sorts potential candidates who haven’t submitted applications to your organization. Effective CRM tools often use email marketing, referral channels, and other online platforms to screen and communicate with candidates who may be fit for the job role.

Choosing between CRM and ATS bottoms down to the preference of your company. While CRM can be pretty proactive, ATS UK is much more accurate. Moreover, you can use both to leverage the unique benefits of each tool.

Tips on Improving Your Resume Accordingly

As more and more companies are employing applicant tracking systems for sorting resumes. As a suitable applicant, your probability of being noticed and ranked higher increases with optimizing your resume for these tools. And as a recruiter, it’s your duty to structure the application forms in a way that helps candidates get noticed by the ATS effectively.

Follow Formats that Parsing Tools Can Use

If the company you’re applying to requires a soft copy of your resume, give it some time to edit and format the documents to make them more “readable” by the ATS parsing algorithms. Usually, PDFs with selectable texts are more appropriate for rendering.

When formatting the document, use clear headlines for each part of your resume. Try to use headlines that are more common. For instance, while stating your experiences, don’t use a headline that says “Previous Job attributions”. Stick to the basics.

Using bullet points is recommended if you have more than one attribute for each heading. State the points in short—describe them in the next line. Don’t complicate the attributes with complex words or by extending them.

Clearly Define Your Education and Skills

Most hiring managers use education and required skills as filter parameters on applicant tracking systems. Try to make them as defined as possible on your resume. Don’t rely on descriptive approaches to define your skills and education. Use bullet points. Consider using the common keywords that hiring managers use to describe the job role you’re applying for and use them on your resume.

Thoroughly State Your Experience

Just as education and skills, experience is also a critical criterion for hiring managers. Even if you’re a fresher, try to enlist personal projects that you may have done to include in the experience headline in your resume. If you completely ignore the tag, you don’t even stand a chance to be ranked, let alone get hired. Again, use bullet points as required.

Optimize Rare Keywords

Depending on the industry and requisition, there might be some technical things that the hiring manager may require a candidate to know. For instance, a requisition for a JAVA developer may include hidden keywords like “AWS”, “server-side programming”, or anything tangential to that. Brainstorm the skills and terms the company may have included in their ATS filter to optimize your resume accordingly.

Keep Your Resume Short and Concise

A longer resume holds no weightage in applicant tracking system algorithms. Shorten the cover letter as much as possible without sacrificing important keywords for the job role. However, it’s not all automation. If you’re ranked, possibly the hiring managers will scrutinize your resume manually. Therefore, shorten your resume, but keep a personal touch.

The Bottom Line

Applicant tracking systems are used by most large corporations that frequently require talent hiring. ATS works by parsing, sorting, and ranking applications according to the parameters uploaded by the hiring managers. As a candidate, it’s your responsibility to improve your resume according to the algorithms of applicant tracking systems.

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By Sidharth

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