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Understanding Applicant Tracking Systems

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If you're applying for jobs, chances are your resume might go through an applicant tracking system (ATS). Companies of all sizes use this human resources software to manage their recruiting and hiring process. By organizing information about job seekers and making it searchable, ATS software can make life much easier for recruiters and hiring managers. While this added step to the hiring process might seem to make landing a job a little more difficult for those applying, this isn't always the case. Learning how to navigate ATS programs and their role in the hiring process can help give you a leg up on the competition. At Tulane School of Professional Advancement, we strive to connect you with networking opportunities and career resources for all levels of the job-search process. Get a deeper look at application tracking systems and tips for crafting your resume to help stand out in the system.

What you write on your resume vs what an applicant tracking system sees

What you write on your resume vs what an applicant tracking system sees

Why Do Companies Use Applicant Tracking Systems?

According to Capterra, 75% of recruiters use some sort of ATS. The likely reason so many businesses are using ATS software is that automating processes like sourcing, organizing, and tracking candidates save time and money. This is especially true for larger organizations with more competitive jobs that might see hundreds or even thousands of applicants for a job posting.

Some systems may even sort and rank candidates by conducting a scan of applicants to select those who best meet the job qualifications. By filtering out unqualified applicants, an ATS can help companies hire more efficiently.

How Do Applicant Tracking Systems Work?

There are hundreds of different types of ATS software, and while they don't all work the same, most of them have similar key features. Through algorithms and AI, applicant tracking systems can make the hiring process much smoother.

Common ATS functions include:

Resume Storage and Parsing

If done manually, resume screening can be a tedious process. Using an ATS's resume parsing feature makes the process of finding capable applicants much easier. Resume parsing takes important information from submitted resumes and formats them the same way. This feature then categorizes all who applied based on who best fits the job description, showing the recruiter all the top candidates first.

Keyword Search Functions

With an ATS system, recruiting and hiring managers can sort through submitted resumes by using keywords. These words are often the same ones used in the job posting. Normally based on experience, location, skills, and former employers, keywords are just one of many ATS features.

Candidate Filters and Tracking

Once resumes have been submitted, hiring managers can start tracking applicants in their ATS pipeline. They can see where all candidates are at in the hiring process—from what stage of the interview they've advanced to or if they're no longer being considered. But even if candidates are no longer being considered, their information is still saved in the ATS's candidate pipeline. Recruiters will still have access to all applicants' information in case a future position that a candidate is a better fit for arises.

Are There Ways to Stand Out in an Applicant Tracking System?

Years ago, before ATS software, applicants could use tricks like using colored paper or having a well-designed resume to make themselves stand out to recruiters. Now, things can be a little more tricky. Check out some of the ways to help you get noticed when submitting an application to an ATS.

Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description

Even though it takes more time, tailoring your resume to a job listing with relevant keywords before submitting your application can help increase the chance of it being seen by recruiters. To ensure you're adding the most relevant keywords, include education requirements, skills, and specific software that a job posting mentions. You should also spell out industry acronyms, no matter how common they are.

Avoid Using Images

Although sharing information on resumes through images is common practice, it may not be the best way to get hired if an organization is using a resume parser. An ATS will likely not read this information and leave your profile with missing data.

Use a Simple Font

Using fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial instead of more artistic-looking fonts helps ensure that an ATS resume parser will be able to read your resume.

Take Advantage of Career Preparation and Resources With Tulane SoPA

Whether you're looking to stay local and network in New Orleans or want to relocate for work, learning about application tracking systems can help you better understand the job application process and what recruiters are looking for. Get even more in-depth career planning resources like webinars with industry professionals, workshops, and one-on-one career advising sessions with Tulane School of Professional Advancement. Request more information about our programs catered to working professionals like you ready to take the next step in your career.

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