- Julie Marseu
Getting Past an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
by Julie Marseu, Certified Resume Strategist, High Impact Resumes Ltd.
Whenever you apply for a job online (to any company website), assume your resume is being screened by a computerized Applicant Tracking System (ATS for short).
How do you get past an ATS?
ATS systems can’t read text boxes, headers or graphics (and some can’t read tables). No matter how beautiful your resume looks, if it can’t be read by an ATS system, it will be screened out. When applying online, a simple layout usually works the best.
ATS systems are programmed to look for specific key words. This means your resume and cover letter should be packed with key words and targeted to fit that particular type of job. If you want to know what the key words are, look at the job duties and the requirements in the job posting.
ATS systems look for specific educational requirements. If the job posting specifies a requirement for a specific degree, diploma, certificate or designation, it will screen out everyone who does not have that education. If the job posting lists it as an asset or a preference, you still have a chance. However, if ten or twenty other applicants with the desired educational qualifications apply, you will probably not make the shortlist.
ATS systems are programmed to calculate and add up all your related experience. This means you need to include the starting and ending dates (month and year) for every job. You can abbreviate these to save space.
ATS systems typically limit the file sizes they will accept. Avoid graphics or images that would bloat the file. Whenever possible, upload the Word version of your file, especially if your PDF file is over 150 kB.
If you follow these rules, your chances of being screened in will be exponentially higher.
Happy job hunting!