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Fortnightly Review

Published 1 year ago 25th September 2021 by Laura Grace

Would you believe me if I told you 75% of CVs are discarded before ever being considered by a human? 

Companies are using applicant tracking systems (ATS) or robots as I like to call them, to decide who the most appropriate candidates are for the job!

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a piece of Software that streamlines a company’s hiring process – you could think of it as a CV spam filter! So how does ATS work? Applicant tracking systems act as electronic gatekeepers for employers and Hiring Managers. The ATS parses a CV’s content into categories and then scans it for specific keywords to determine if the job application should be passed along to the Recruiter or Hiring Manager.

As if the job-hunting process wasn’t already hard enough, nowadays your CV needs to be tailored to meet the criteria and expectations of a robot and then the Hiring Manager. It is vital to know about ATS because in today’s job market 99% of fortune 500 companies are using ATS software as standard in their human resource department, SMEs are also heading in the same direction with more than 50% of SMEs using ATS, soon enough it will be a global standardised system across the board so it is vital you know how to talk to the robot!

The ATS scores candidates’ resumes according to certain set of criteria and shows the recruiter which candidates are the best fit for the advertised position. The scoring differs from one ATS system to another. The better the score, the more likely you are to be seen by a Hiring Manager.

How does it know what’s appropriate? – a profile is made for each job, usually by the Hiring Manager. They decide on what words should be in the CV of a candidate perfect for that role. Then the robot gets to work to find those words in the CV’s so the robot uses natural language processing to basically read through the CV and pick up key words, it can in some cases even know the magnitude of your experience, so it can pick up on words that can describe how long you were in a job or the level of seniority or responsibility you had – words like strong, compelling, proficient, efficiency etc.

ATS exist because on average advertised jobs can receive up to 300 applications, companies like Google receive up to 75,000 applicants per week! This is mainly down to how simple it is to apply for a job. For example, on the social media professional platform LinkedIn you can literally click one button “Apply now” and your LinkedIn professional profile is sent as means of an application.

Naturally enough making a job easier to apply for will almost certainly increase the traffic. That is where the ATS comes in, it speeds up the hiring process and quickly identifies the most appropriate applicants. It is believed that the quality of the interviewees is of a higher calibre too.

How to impress the robot, keep it simple in terms of fonts stick to easy-to-read fonts like times new roman or ariel.

The robot is only interested in words, so go easy on graphics, charts, tables – they may get ignored and work against you. In some cases, applicants tend to put skills into tables, and it wouldn’t be uncommon for some ATS to ignore tables so the content inside them may very well be ignored too.

Stick to the language in the job description, so if for example the job description is using a specific job title and your title is slightly different – then go with the wording in the job description because that is what the robot will be looking for. This too goes for hard and soft skills, as well as any other wording in the job description – this is your biggest clue as to how to get noticed by the bot!

With most ATS, a score above 80% is good to increase your chances of passing the ATS screening. Maximum possible match score is 100%.

Here are a couple of bonus tips to beat the bot: traditional, reverse-chronological format, relevant keywords used throughout the resume, simple formatting with clear headings, degrees and abbreviations are spelled out and all experience relates to the same career target.

As always, for more CV, interview and career advice check out my Instagram page To_whomthismayconcern

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