Applicant Tracking Systems Can Be Your Friend - If You Know How To Shake Their Hand!
Published: Feb 14, 2014 By Roger Lear
Most companies that have over 100 employees have applicant tracking systems (ATS). When you apply to a job, each company's ATS makes you create an account before you can add your resume. In addition, most ATS's will ask you "knock out" questions that will help the company automatically screen each application for certain qualifications like years' experience, college degrees and certain certificates or designations needed in a job.
Our Central Florida Survey of employers (Read Survey), one of the main reasons your online application is getting no response is because you are not even realizing you are doing things that will not get your credentials to the top of the pile.
It is very clear that post-recession, employers are being very picky about who they are hiring. After speaking with hundreds of employers, job seekers number one application mistake is applying to jobs that you don't have the qualifications. I get it. You are either out of work or underemployed and think by applying to all types of jobs, some company will notice that even though you don't have the qualifications for the job, someone will think highly enough of your background to consider you for an interview. A computer doesn't have feelings.
"A computer doesn't have feelings...understanding how applicant tracking systems work will allow you to concentrate on a targeted job search; not a apply and pray job search"
You must make sure that when you find jobs that match your qualifications and the company has an ATS; follow these guidelines that will help you get noticed by the computer first and then hopefully a human:
1. Don't fill out the application via your cell phone. For those of you that have tried to apply to jobs via your cell phone, you most likely have found it pretty cumbersome. Many of the ATS's do not have spell check and require the applicant to fill out additional information like knock out questions and reasons for leaving previous companies. Bad grammar and spelling equals no interview.
2. Make sure the resume you "upload" to an ATS is formatted properly. Get rid of the fancy type, borders, pictures and logos on any resume you upload. Many ATS's get confused and will not parse the resume correctly.
3. The job title in your resume should be very close to the job you are applying for. This should also be at the top of your resume. If you are a property claims adjuster applying to a homeowners claims adjuster position, change your title to homeowners' claims adjuster if that is what you do! The ATS will look at "keywords" not job titles. This happens all the time where your job titles at previous companies don't even come close to matching the job you are applying to but it is exactly what you do.
4. Feed the monster - ATS system keywords. Most ATS systems are hungry. The job description of the job you are applying to is the DNA of the job. Any information that you feed the applicant tracking system should have keywords that are similar to those found in the job description. If you find yourself having to make numerous changes for this keyword match to happen, you most likely are not qualified to the job. However, if you can tweak your keywords to fit the job description, the computer will recognize you.
5. Fill out all fields the company asks you to fill out (accurately). Some ATS applications will take you thirty minutes to an hour to complete. Job seekers will skip filling out all the information like references and exact dates of employment. Why? It requires research. HUGE mistake. Even if you get the interview and the job offer, any false information found on your application is grounds for immediate termination. The sad part is the reason this happens is because many don't take the time to make sure their application process is flawless.
During a job search, you can only control certain things. The application process through an ATS is one of those things. It is you verse the ATS computer. Follow this advice and you will increase your chances tenfold of getting an interview.