Advancements in the HR field have been consistent for many years now, but none have been more impactful than the Application Tracking System (ATS). While ATS has its fair share of positives, candidates that don’t know how to navigate them will decrease their opportunities.
Data-driven resumes are the best way to find jobs under the new ATS-focused recruiting ecosystem. But to understand why we have to explore the ATS platform in depth.
What is ATS?
Applicant Tracking System software provides recruiting and hiring tools for companies by collecting and sorting through thousands of resumes. 99% of Fortune 500 companies use it to streamline the application process, but online job sites, like Monster, also use their own.
If you apply online, chances are your resume will pass through two ATS platforms before it gets to the hiring manager or recruiter. It’s rare that resumes are read by a human first.
How Does an ATS Find Candidates?
An ATS uses keywords to find suitable candidates and resumes that only include a registered keyword will earn a high ranking in the system. Candidates can use data-driven resume templates to ensure that their resume doesn’t get filtered out by the system.
It’s common for candidates to use the same generic resume for every single job they apply for. Although ATS makes the recruiting process easier, it can make applying for jobs more difficult for candidates who don’t customize their resume per job post, or even worse, per industry.
How Candidates Optimize Their Data-Driven Resume
Without a doubt, data-driven resumes have made the hiring process easier for both employee and employer, but candidates need to pay close attention to how they write them to succeed.
Standing Out is Easy
The whole point of an ATS is to make recruitment effortless, but since so few candidates know of its existence, your acknowledgment of it already helps you stand out. Several candidates are still sending generic resumes, but you can stay one step ahead by customizing your own.
Always Use Keywords
Simply read a job posting to understand what keywords they use to find candidates. Modify your branding headline, experience section, performance profile, and other sections of your resume to flag the ATS. You can use word cloud sites like Tagxedo to find more relevant keywords.
ATS software is exploitable, and candidates may stuff their resumes with keywords by using invisible white text. While this will increase your rating, you’ll immediately be blacklisted from the company. Add in keywords naturally so you and the employer can find the perfect fit.
Beat the Non-Human Element
One massive negative of ATS software is it removes the human aspect, but you can fix this problem by using synonyms and different suffixes. For example, “coordinating” and “coordinate” will flag differently, so will teamwork and cooperation. Plurals flag similarly if they end in an “s.”
Data-Drive Resumes Standardize the Application Process
There’s no universal way to beat an Applicant Tracking System, but they can help candidates standardize the process. To get past an ATS, you still need a well-written resume mindful of ATS algorithms. You can do this by rarely switching up the following:
- Tailor your resume to the job description every time you apply.
- Match resume keywords to the job description.
- Use long-form and acronyms of keywords for better searchability.
- Never use columns or tables. It messes up the system.
- Never use headers or footers. They also mess with the system.
- Always use chronological or hybrid resume formats, never functional.
- Use fonts like Garamond, Georgia, or Helvetica.
- Use traditional headings, like “About Me” and “Work Experience.”
- Save your resume as a .docx (Microsoft Word).
It’s common for candidates to spruce up their resume with colors, fonts, and wording, but computers don’t like that. Sticking to a traditional format is how candidates stand out with ATS.