Career Management

What You Need to Know about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)


Now that summer is over, it’s that time of the year when job seekers update their resumes and start ‘hunting’ afresh. Job searchers upload their resume on a company’s career portal and then sometimes don’t hear from the company for weeks. They may think they fit the profile requirements, have the required experience but the phone doesn’t ring.

If this sounds familiar, pay close attention. Most companies today use the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to help screen through the flood of resumes they receive for a job opening. Human Resources departments across all sectors are increasingly using the ATS to sift through resumes and filter talent. If you are searching for a job, or have in the recent past, just sharing your past experiences and credentials isn’t enough. It is imperative that you link your strengths with the job description and design your resume to satisfy the ATS.

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment needs. An ATS can be implemented or accessed online on an enterprise or small business level, depending on the needs of the company. The ATS filters applications automatically based on given criteria such as keywords, skills, former employers, years of experience etc. The ATS reads your resume and then ranks/scores your qualifications when compared with the job descriptions. Only those applicants who receive high scores are then invited for an interview.

A whopping 72% of resumes are never seen by human eyes. Employers […] use applicant tracking software to parse the information from your resume and map it into a database called an ATS (applicant tracking system). From this information, the system will assign you a score based on how well you match the job the employer is trying to fill, and then rank and sort all candidates. Naturally, the potential employees with the highest scores move on, while others are left in the dust. – Mashable

For companies, most job postings attract a deluge of applications. These days, most applicants resort to online mediums like job boards for job opportunities. This basically means over 1000 applicants for each posting- many of which might not even be qualified for the job. Companies have started using ATS to weed out the resumes that do not possess the key skills the job requires.

“With an ATS, HR can automate and store hiring documents online so HR professionals never have to worry about sifting through stacks of paperwork or hundreds of emails to find what they need.” - Colin Day, CEO and president of talent acquisition software company iCIMS, Inc.

Moreover, most companies comply with the rules laid out by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), which require them to adopt non-discriminatory practices as well as keep log for all applicants and the hiring process. The ATS tracks the data needed and can generate the required reports for such compliance bodies thus automating the whole process - saving time, effort and money for the company.

So if you are a jobseeker, it’s time you started designing your resume that is compatible with the Applicant Tracking System.

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