What is an Applicant Tracking System, and Why Should it Matter to Me?

You may have heard the radio commercials for online recruiting software that says it can help businesses and candidates that are suited to their open positions. Sound familiar? Well, the way that they do this is

through the use of applicant tracking systems (ATS).

In short, ATSs are software programs that help sort through data. In this case, the data is the listing of skills and experience needed for a specific position within a company. The software is designed to match the needs of the posting with those of applicants for that posting.

Why should you care? Because most job postings today use some form of applicant tracking system to help sort through the hundreds – or even thousands – of applicants, including you. In most cases, an ATS helps filter down the applications to a smaller, more manageable list to be reviewed by a recruiter or hiring manager. In other words, the ATS has become the new gatekeeper.

Now that you understand, from a high level, what an ATS is, you can start to use it to your advantage. There are a few key concepts to keep in mind in order to do so:

  1. Never, ever upload your resume as a picture. As you can imagine, these software programs are not designed to read pictures, meaning your resume will be tossed out, no matter how perfect you are for the position.
  2. Avoid uploading a PDF of your resume – use a .docx  le instead – as many ATSs have difficulty reading them. See #1.
  3. Do your best to leverage the same terminology used in the job posting when describing your skills and achievements. The more your application aligns with the skills and experience listed, the better your chances of being selected for consideration.

This all may sound confusing, which is understandable. That’s why we offer resume writing services to help you navigate this process.

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