Applicant Tracking Software – busting the myths around ATS

You need to be aware of ATS when applying for work, but it is not as scary or as ruthless as some companies claim it to be.

applicant tracking software tips


ATS is a word that is continually used across the job market at the moment and there are a lot of companies out there making job seekers continually question their CV. Emma Alkirwi, aka the CV Guru, demystifies concerns about Applicant Tracking Software and explains how it really works.

What is ATS?

ATS stands for Applicant Tracking Software. This means that when you apply for a job for predominately larger companies your CV will enter their ATS. This means your CV needs to be in a format that will allow the software to grab your information and pre-populate their system. When the recruiter is ready to screen candidates’ CVs they will then type in search words and those CVs that have these words in it will appear at the top of the search results.

How do you pass ATS?

You have two things to consider: the format and the key words.

Format: it may be tempting to have a CV with logos, tables, pictures, maps, charts etc, but this will not allow the ATS to pull the information into their systems. So, opt for a smart, impactful presentable CV to allow you get all your information through.

Key words: you need to mirror the job advert here and this can be achieved in the professional profile and key skills section. So, examine the job advert here and mirror what the requirements are in your CV. There is no need to mention soft skills as a recruiter will not search those terms.

These are the two aspects you need to consider when applying for positions while ensuring you are ATS Compliant.

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The myths of ATS

1. Companies stating they have put your CV through an ATS and offered you a % score

Unless they are assessing you against a vacancy there is no way to offer you a score. They can certainly comment on the format as there are some layouts that will just not work but each vacancy is so different. In order to achieve a score, you need to be rated against an actual vacancy to assess how you match with the key words in a specific job.

2. All ATS are the same

This is a serious misconception. It depends on how the company have refined theirs. They will have selected one that fits their company and culture. So, this is why you should mirror the job advert language in your CV.

3. ATS has removed the human element

There is a claim that a computer now screens your CV, and a human will never look at it. Of course, your CV needs to be relevant to the role, hence why aligning the language is really important. However, as the applicants are now in the one place this saves the recruiter time from looking through many emails. This means they can get back to everyone and spend more time actually looking at their CV rather than accidently missing someone in their busy inboxes.

So, in conclusion, while you should be aware of ATS, there is no benefit in getting too worried about ATS. Use a simplistic presentable layout and mirror the job advert language and your CV will be viewed. Then the recruiter can assess your experience against others.

If you would like to have your CV reviewed free of charge then you can do so by clicking here.

*Emma Alkirwi is the Managing Director of the CV Guru which is the leading service provider of professionally written CVs, LinkedIn Profiles, cover letters in the UK and they also provide specialist consultancy services.

Read more:

How to update your CV if you’ve been made redundant after furlough

Take part in vital research about older workers during the pandemic


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