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Keywords Are The Keys To Getting Past The Application Tracking System
Ensuring your meet the ATS rules
My very first job in developing software products was helping large corporate companies figure out what rules they needed to automatically weed out the applicants who weren’t likely to be successful in their graduate recruitment processes.
These were among the first Application Tracking Systems (ATS), which now are becoming all the rage with recruiters around the world, but back then they were quite basic.
An application form would include a question such as:
What grade did you get for your university degree? With options for levels A, B, C, and D.
The system would then be programmed to automatically reject any person who said they had levels C or D, and voila, the recruiter now has 20% fewer applications to manually review.
This however was twenty years ago and the world has moved on.
Gone of the days of such binary rules and now, in a world of artificial intelligence, it’s getting hard to figure out what the recruiter will be using for their ATS rules.
What we can say is that it involved keywords.
What is an Application Tracking System (ATS)?
An application tracking system is a software system that is used by recruiters to streamline and manage the recruitment process.
They cover the entire process from vacancy creation and advertising through application receipt and management and communication.
According to Glassdoor, the average corporate job attracts 250 applicants. At an average resume review time of 5 minutes, that’s 20 hours of resume reviewing time, so recruiters are turning to these tools to help them reduce the time it takes to find the candidates most likely to match what they’re looking for.
Are Application Tracking Systems rejecting applications?
Yes and no.
It is possible to introduce “killer questions” into an application form (as I describe above) and for an application to be automatically rejected.
However, the more likely scenario is that the ATS is being used for “management” of the applications and not the “processing”, in which case the ATS is not rejecting applications. A person is.
The ATS can be used by recruiters to support the identification of the most suitable candidates, through understanding what an ideal candidate looks like and the presentation of the most suitable candidates to the recruiter.
How can I get my resume visible in an ATS?
For an AI-powered ATS (like that shown in the image above), it’s matching functionality is analyzing the requirements of the job (through the job description and supporting information) and then comparing it to the resume or application form submitted in the application. As such, increasing your level of matching can be done by ensuring that your application contains the same keyword references as contained within the job description.
In all honesty, this piece of advice does not apply just to the world of Application Tracking Systems. It applies to ALL job applications and processes for managing them.
If you want to make it look like you’re the perfect match for an employer then take the effort to improve how you demonstrate how perfect you are. This means:
using the same industry terminology that the recruiter uses
describing scenarios that the recruiter has described
using the same professional terminology that the recruiter users
If the recruiter wants to know about “SaaS”, “Fintech” and “Jira” then resumes that include the words “SaaS”, “Fintech” and “Jira” will rank as a better match than those that say “software as a service”, “financial services” and “project tracking software”.
Yes, this means more work when you apply.
Yes, you might need to have multiple versions of your resume.
Yes, it seems ridiculous.
However, those are the rules of the game that the recruiters are playing so you need to get on board.
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