How to beat the Applicant Tracking System in 2021

As the job industry is a very competitive place and ever-developing sector, the recruiters tend to do the recruitment process within less time period by using modern technology. Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is the new invention for the recruiter’s judgment. In other words, your resume goes into the human hands only if it passes the ATS test. This guide will teach you how to create a perfect resume that can beat the ATS bot.

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

If you are praying to pass your resume only from the six-seconds test, you are not an updated applicant. Because the modern recruitment process has changed a lot. That means your resume is seen by the recruiters only if it passes from the ATS. As the statistics, usually 75% of applications are rejected before they are seen by the recruiters. Now you may understand the importance and the worthiness of being aware of the Applicant Tracking System.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Definition

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a tool or software used by employers or recruiters to process the recruitment smoothly by collecting, sorting, scanning, ranking the resumes, and filtering only the ATS-optimized resumes for a target job position. 

There are so many ATS software available worldwide with different features. Here are some of them. 

  • Taleo
  • Kenexa-Brassring
  • Jobvite
  • iCims
  • SAP-SuccessFactors
  • Peoplefluent 
  • ADP
  • Silkroad
  • iRecruitment
  • Greenhouse
  • Newton Software
  • Ultipro 
  • Jobscore
  • Lumesse
  • HRsmart
  • TheResumator
  • Ceridian
  • Link

How Applicant Tracking System (ATS) works?

The modern job applications are sent via online not as hard copies. Firstly, the Applicant Tracking System collects those applications and stores them in a database. Only hiring professionals can access this database. Then the hiring managers set up the requirements of the job position in the ATS. These setups can be keywords and relevant qualifications. After that, the recruiters give the command to scan the resumes. With that command, the ATS starts to scan the stored resumes and check whether the required keywords and skills are available in those resumes.

Based on the availability of the requirements the ATS provides scores for the resumes separately. Usually, in this step, ATS matches the resume with the job advertisement and the required qualifications and skills. As the next step, the ATS ranks the scored resumes from the top score to the lowest. Finally, ATS filters the top resumes and those resumes are eligible to go to the six-second test that is conducted by the recruiters.

How do Applicant Tracking System (ATS) work?

Benefits of ATS 

Usually, the purpose of shifting a manual system into a computerized system is to save time and to work efficiently. Likewise, After the recruitment process has been streamlined by the ATS, the process of hiring employees was quick. In other words, ATS was able to reduce the time wastage and boost up the administrative tasks. 

When the recruiters recruit through the manual system, the well-organized, skillful, and well-aware applicants are missed by the recruiters. Because if any section was missed to scan the recruiters feel the applicant is less qualified and they reject the resume. But after the ATS is introduced the quality of the recruitment process has improved. Because the computer can scan the whole content faster than a human. 

The manual recruitment process is unable to check each qualification, skills, eligibility, grammar mistakes, spelling mistakes accurately. Because a human takes at least a half-hour to read and scan the errors of a resume. But ATS is more rapid than a human. Also, checking the grammar and spelling errors accurately and skipping those resumes that contain errors is the main advantage of ATS. 

The ATS is an open platform that can be customized by any recruiter related to the company-specific needs. Therefore, it is eligible to use in any sized company and for any position. Other than that there are some specific advantages of the ATS. They are sending the interview reminders to the applicants by automated settings and sending information about the new job openings of the company, etc.

Drawbacks of ATS 

The ATS has common drawbacks of other automated or computerized systems such as being unable to run without electricity, the effect of viruses, and the security problems. Instead of them if there is any technical issue the whole recruitment process will be corrupted. Especially, if any resume looks slightly different than which ATS programmed, that resume will be rejected though it is the most eligible resume among the crowd. Therefore your resume should be more ATS friendly and contain relevant and accurate content. That’s why we always advise you that relevancy is the key to the success of a winning resume.

Tips to write an ATS-friendly Resume

You may know the resume is the decision-maker of your dream job. Also, your resume should pass both the ATS test and the 6-seconds test to be eligible for the interview opportunities. Here are some tips that will help you to beat the ATS bot and increase your interview opportunities.

Tip #01: Choose a Good Resume Format

After many experiments, the experts have suggested the applicants to use the reverse chronological resume format and hybrid resume format but not to use the functional resume format. Other than that many factors are engaged with the format of the resume.  

Here are some factors to avoid from your resume. 

  • Tables
  • Text boxes
  • Logos
  • Images
  • Photos
  • Graphics
  • Graphs, or other visuals
  • Columns
  • Headers and footers
  • Hyperlinks on important words (some formats replace the links instead of the words)

These factors can be used in your resume but under a limit.

  • Text formatting – The bold and italic can use any circumstance but do not use underlines everywhere because they look like links.  
  • Colors – The ATS returns all text in the same color. Therefore, make sure your color choice does not disturb the readability of your resume.
  • Bullet Points – The optimum number of the bullet points of each section is between three to six.
  • Fonts – Using 10-12 points for normal text and 14-16 points for header text is better. Try to use the best font types such as Open Sans, Calibri, and Georgia.
  • Spacing – Limit your line spacing in between 1.0 – 1.15 points and set 1 inch for all margins. 

Tip #02: Choose an ATS-Friendly File Format

The best ATS friendly file types can be PDF, .docx, .doc, and plain text document. But it is dependable based on the ATS software. That means though one software can read PDF format well another ATS software may not be able to read PDF format well. Therefore try to use word file format only if the ATS does not require a PDF format. The plain text files are also totally ATS friendly. 

Tip #03: Make your Resume with a Good Resume Template

Usually, an online resume builder provides totally ATS friendly resume templates. Therefore, if you are not sure the ATS friendliness of your resume, use an online resume builder for quick and effective finishing for your resume. 

Tip #04: Use the Standard Section Headings

Usually, there are five main sections of a resume. They are the resume header, summary section, skills section, work experience section, and education section. Other than that any applicant can add more extra sections such as languages, hobbies, certification, etc. However, the headings of these sections should be standard. For example, if any applicant adds “where did I work before” instead of the work experience section heading, the ATS fails to search the work experience section of his/her resume. That will be caused to reduce the score of the resume and will reject it soon. Therefore, use the most popular and standard headings for your resume sections.

Tip #05: Tailor the Resume according to the Job

The content of your resume should be relevant to the job advertisement. Therefore, you should read the job advertisement carefully. Then follow the below steps to make your resume stand out. 

  • Search the relevant keywords of the job position and apply them on your resume as possible. The keywords can be job-related skills and action verbs of the job advertisement. 
  • Use both acronyms and full texts. That means some ATS has fed both acronyms and full texts. Therefore, you can pass those keywords very easily. 

    Example:- Bachelor of Arts (BA) 
    Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • Check the spellings and grammar mistakes of both resume and cover letter before submitting them. If there are mistakes ATS will reject your resume as fast as possible.

Make sure your Job Application is ATS-friendly before it Submits

If you can run an ATS-resume test before submitting the resume that will help you to reduce the errors and increase the ATS-friendliness of your resume as far as possible. Here are the basic ways of doing an ATS resume test yourself alone.

  • Convert the Resume to a Plain-Text File

The simple and easiest way to run an ATS resume test is copying the whole text of your resume and pasting them in a plain text document. Then check whether your sections and information have pasted in the plain text file separately and correctly. If there is any mistake or corruption that tells you to rearrange your resume before submission.

  • Choose a free ATS scan for your resume

The second choice is using a free online ATS-resume scan. There are so many ATS resume scanners available online. You can use one of them to check the ATS friendliness and errors of your resume. Other than that, the scanner will show the ranked skills of your resume and the information that is unable to retrieve by the ATS. Then you can optimize your resume further to pass the final ATS-compatibility test.

  • Use an online resume review service

The final step of the resume writing process is proofreading. Usually, you may think proofreading is just checking grammar and spelling mistakes. But nowadays the applicants need to submit their applications online and the recruitment process has been automated by Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Therefore you should think about the ATS friendliness of your resume as same as thinking about the spelling and grammar errors.

Actually humans fail to check the ATS-friendliness of a resume 100% accurately. But there exist some Online resume review services which are great ways to get your resume proofread before submitting it to the employer.

Here are some online Resume Review sites. 

Though there are so many resume-reviewing services and apps are available on the internet, the majority of them are paid services. But Priwoo resume review is a totally free service. What you need to do is just upload your resume to and then you will receive a resume critique through an email within two business days. A professional will scan the full content of your resume and gives you a score based on the impact, brevity, style, and skills of your resume. You can understand whether your resume is ATS friendly or not according to the score and the resume verdict. Also, you will receive the guidelines to minimize your errors. Therefore now you can check the ATS friendliness of your resume for absolutely free.

Key Takeaways

  • Apply for the job positions, even if you might not be qualified.

ATS never filters only 100% matched resumes with the job descriptions. Also, if you submit a totally ATS friendly resume, you may get a chance for the job interview though you are less qualified for the position. Therefore apply for any position that you have qualified to some extent.

  • Don’t submit the same resume for each job advertisement.

As the different companies require different skills and competencies from the applicants, submitting the same resume for each job advertisement will be useless. Therefore, though it consumes the time you have to tailor your resumes with the appropriate keywords and key phrases from the job advert and make it relevant to the job you are applying for.

  • Don’t try to Cheat the ATS.

Some applicants try to cheat ATS by over repeating keywords many times, adding a separate section named ‘keywords’, or pasting many keywords in white without any relation to the content. But this will never be successful because the ATS copies the whole text of your resume into another place and checks the content. If you have played those tricks, your resume will be rejected.

Now you may have a clear understanding of the Applicant Tracking system and how it affects your job searching process. Also, If you tend to be a professional in the near future you should follow these resume tips when you are creating your resume. But ATS friendliness is only one factor that affects resume writing. So what’s next?  It’s your time to learn how to arrange each section of the resume with relevant information.