“How to Beat the Applicant Tracking System?”

“Will My Resume pass ATS?”

“How Do I Get My Resume Past ATS?”

“What is a Good ATS Score?”

Have you found yourself searching for the answers to these questions when applying for your next job? 

You aren’t alone. Many people have this mentality about ATS being an unbeatable machine. I’ve seen it compared to playing chess against the computer. No one wins that. Or at least no one has in over 15 years. 

I’m here to let you in on some industry secrets and clear up some of the persistent myths. 

Let’s start by looking at what applicant tracking systems are.

What is ATS?

In its most basic form, ATS is computer software designed to track the pipeline of applicants throughout the hiring process.  

They are configurable programs that every HR department has set up differently. Think of it as an electronic filing system. It is rare that people have filing systems set up exactly the same way.

To date, there are over 60 ATS programs to choose from. A short list of the top 10 include:

ADP Workforce NowRecruitee

That’s a lot of configuration options.

Simply put, there is no one way to “beat the bots”, and you’re not beating anything anyway. You’re resume is either getting added to the “possible candidate” pile or the “hold for future consideration” pile.

You’ve likely seen some of these logos at the bottom of the page when you’re applying for your next position. Or, if you must sign in to apply, you’re using the job seeker side of the software. 

How Does it Work?

I’ll break it down into 4 steps:

  1. An order is made in ATS including information about the position, skills desired, and required qualifications.
  2. The ATS uses that information to create a profile of the ideal candidate. 
  3. As resumes come in, ATS parses, sorts, and ranks them based on how well they fit the profile created in step 2.
  4. Hiring managers can now quickly go through the top-ranked resumes with a fine-toothed comb, choosing whom they want to interview.

How Accurate are Applicant Tracking Systems?

Applicant tracking systems are very far from perfect. 

They are great tools to streamline and simplify the hiring process, but a study by Harvard Business Review found this:

“A large majority (88%) of employers agree, telling us that qualified high-skills candidates are vetted out of the process because they do not match the exact criteria established by the job description. That number rose to 94% in the case of middle-skills workers.” 

~Joseph B. Fuller, Manjari Raman, Eva Sage-Gavin, Kristen Hines~

That’s incredibly high. The good news is that hiring managers realize this and know not the rely too heavily on ATS.

Who Uses ATS?

It is safe to assume that the majority of large corporations are using ATS. A study by Jobscan indicated approximately 98% of Fortune 500 companies use applicant tracking systems.

A little over half of large businesses use an ATS and only 35% of small businesses use one. 

This all makes sense as Fortune 500 companies receive hundreds of resumes per position and small businesses can see anywhere from 2-15. This is especially true if the position isn’t listed as remote, because it brings the demographics local.

If you’re applying through any online form, you are using an applicant tracking system. In fact, job search sites like LinkedIn and Indeed have their own built-in ATS software.

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Secret time!

Secret Number 1

A human will look at your resume.

I don’t know the rumor came about that 75% of applications are tossed by ATS.

The applicant tracking system isn’t going to throw away resumes. It, instead, is a database designed to organize the resumes received. And huge companies like Amazon and Google have staff dedicated to reading resumes and applicant profiles. 

They are aware of the pitfalls of ATS and missing hidden candidates. At the end of the day, the goal is to find the best person, even if that means not every box is checked off on the hiring rubric. 

Secret Number 2

Keywords aren’t everything.

This is a double-edged sword. Keywords are definitely important. They MUST be added to your resume. This is because the hiring staff is using ATS like a search engine.

Except, keywords aren’t the only thing hiring staff is looking for. 

They look for other qualifiers such as location, years of experience, education, titles held, and more. You can have every single keyword possible for your target position, but you won’t get a job as a doctor if you don’t have your medical degree.

Secret Number 3

Don’t Try to Trick Applicant Tracking Systems

Some popular advice out there includes:

  • Paste keywords in white
  • Paste the entire job description in white
  • Repeat a few keywords multiple times
  • Make your skills section a list of keywords

Please don’t do any of these.

Putting anything in white is going to show up on the other side of ATS. Some of my resumes have dark shading with white lettering. ATS reads those. So, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it simply disappears. The hiring manager won’t be impressed when they see your parsed resume with a list of keywords sprawled across the bottom. The same can be said for pasting the entire job description.

Be liberal with your keywords but be creative. Per thesaurus.com, there are 32 synonyms for the word “creative”. No need to have it on your resume more than once, twice at most. 

 Lastly, don’t waste your resume space. Use the skills section to list your actual skills. Hopefully, you did some reflecting and chose a job you’d be a good fit for so your skills will align with your desired position anyway. That’s a win-win! You have legit skills AND keywords. 

Remember, Resume Assassin is here to help you update your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. 

Reach out today: www.resumeassassin.com or mary@resumeassassin.com

Connect on LinkedInwww.linkedin.com/in/mary-southern

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