Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

APPLICANT TRACKING SYSTEMS How to Navigate the ATS Resume-Writing Landscape

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

APPLICANT TRACKING SYSTEMS How to Navigate the ATS Resume-Writing Landscape

Article excerpt

Before the Internet and online applications, resumes would be sent, opened, and read by human beings. Today, upwards of 80 per cent of resumes are first scanned by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). If a resume does not pass the ATS criteria, it is likely the resume will never be read by a human being. And at many companies, even if a resume is read by a human being, it also still must pass the ATS criteria for a person to be considered for a job.

Most job applicants become frustrated because their resumes disappear into the "black hole" of ATS. As career professionals, we can best serve our clients by helping them navigate ATS so that they rise to the top. This article explains how ATS work, provides strategies for navigating the ATS landscape, and gives examples that illustrate how to write good resume content in conformance with ATS limitations and requirements.

What is ATS Technology?

Human Resource departments, hiring managers, and recruiters use Applicant Tracking Systems to streamline and accelerate the recruiting process. By using automated, computer-based, ATS technology, hiring managers can more easily and cost effectively seek and hire the best qualified job candidates. Since the advent of Resumix, the first-ever ATS, introduced in 1988, the industry has been marked by enormous growth, technological advances, consolidations, the birth and death of entire companies dedicated to posting jobs and parsing resumes, and the landscape we have today - 80 per cent of resumes going through ATS as the first step in the employment process.

Reasons for ATS

Why have ATS emerged as a dominant force in the employment industry? Several reasons:

Monster effect: Hiring managers need a way to manage the number of applicants to each job. With thousands of folks responding to every job posting, it is no longer possible to read every resume for every open position.

Matching Ability: With the ease of applying for jobs, many applicants do not match the job requirements. ATS can help the hiring manager find candidates that match without expending hours reviewing irrelevant resumes.

Ability to Find Candidates: Many companies prefer candidates who already are working and may not be actively looking for a job. ATS can search LinkedIn profiles and other social media for matches to the job.

Regulations: The U.S. Federal Government requires employers to report hiring statistics and to ensure hiring policies follow EEO requirements. ATS makes this easier.

Automation: With so many candidates applying to each job, the burden of manually tracking candidates and documentation becomes costly. By automating the hiring process from the beginning and tying the ATS into the existing HRIS platform, companies increase efficiency and save significant costs.

How ATS Work to Select Candidate Resumes

Every ATS is different. That said, in layman's terms here is how Applicant Tracking Systems work from the candidate's point of view.

The candidate selects a job to apply for. The candidate uploads a resume and may need to fill out forms and answer additional questions. The ATS then will "read" and parse the candidate's uploaded resume. Based on how the software algorithm "reads" the resume, information from the resume will be put into set fields in the ATS database. Many ATS use clues from the resume, such as standard headings, to determine where to put the information in the database.

Once the resume, LinkedIn Profile, other social network information, and application answers from the candidate are in the ATS, the ATS will use algorithms to score the candidates based on the job announcement. Many ATS use keywords, either entered by the hiring manager or using selection algorithms based on the job announcement itself.

The ATS then use the scoring algorithm (equation) to determine how well the candidate fits the job requirements, based on keyword matching and/or answers the candidate made to the questions. …

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