Hacking Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) and sealing your fate!

Devieka Gautam
4 min readJan 25, 2020
Photo by Galina N on Unsplash

With the advent of computers and automation, the recruiting agencies have one-upped themselves, too, and how! Gone are the days of recruiters reading resumes line by line to shortlist the proposals.

You know you are dealing with an applicant tracking software when you fill in details of your candidate even after you’ve submitted your resume. We all know how frustrating that is!

Welcome to the future (rather the modern reality) of the resume selection process.

What is ATS, and how do they work?

ATS, or also known as Talent Management Systems, are relatively common these days to automate the hiring process and process job applications, faster. Amongst the hundreds, if not thousands of job applicants received by a recruiting manager, ATS proves to be a faster and more scientific way of screening candidates.

With ATS in place, gone are the days of organizations wasting their time and effort for sorting and filing the paperwork.

For the recruiters, ATS allows them to review applications, send out prompts for online evaluations, and push out notifications indicating the status of their fate — either a rejection or a job offer!

Most ATS software allows input of information right from a professional networking site, which proves to be a time saving for the candidates. The candidate can then add more impact to their application by customizing it further rather than filling the necessary information over and over.

While this process tilts more in favor of the recruiters than the candidates, one needs to beat the increased adoption of this automated process at its own game.

The majority of Fortune 500 companies utilize the wonders of ATS systems. Workday, Taleo, Success Factors are some of the most commonly used ATS systems used by Fortune 500 companies.

Let’s get down to it!

  • Ranking and Relevance: Each job opportunity comes with a job description that should be analyzed well, and then the resume is applied. After you upload your resume and input relevant details on the website, the ATS kicks into the picture and starts scanning the information for a better match.
  • Taleo, one of the ATS systems, uses a feature, “Req Rank,” which indicates the percentage of the relevance of the resume with the job description. This way, the recruiter can focus on the top 5–6 candidates to evaluate instead of reading all the applications, thus managing their time effectively.
  • Keywording your resume right: One other way of filtering the applications is by searching for a specific title or skill relevant to the job profile. For example, let’s say for the role of a store manager, “SAAS” and “sales” is the applied filter, and your resume doesn’t have either of them, tough luck!
  • A search can contain multiple terms such as those mentioned above, either individually or in combination. Hence, it is crucial to customize your resume to the job you’re applying for while predicting the right keywords relevant to the job.
  • Use both long forms and acronyms of standard terms such as “Search Engine Optimization (SEO),” for you never know which keyword will be used as a filter by the recruiter.
  • Use standard fonts Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia, and limit them to 2 fonts per resume to avoid parsing errors.
  • Avoid making your resume fancy and stick to standard headings. Focus on getting past the ATS systems first, and then can you try your hand at impressing the interviewer with your persona.

ETS 1Up: The format of the resume is the key!

When you upload your resume onto a website, it isn’t always necessary that the recruiter will read your resume, line by line, and, as is. With ATS systems in the picture, the resume is ‘read’ as a digital profile as it has been trained to read. What that essentially means is the chances that the recruiter misses reading almost entire parts of the resume becomes high!

You have to create an ATS friendly resume by keeping the format of the resume, wait for it — Clean, Clear, Crisp, and Concise.

  • Keep the formatting of the resume consistent, format standard, and document type, exact.
  • More importantly, avoid overstuffing your resume with keywords to beat the ATS systems.
  • Chances are you’d be caught by the recruiter even though you’d pass the ATS test. Focus on creating a resume matching your actual experiences, intelligently.

The ATS isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It is just getting better and better with the advancements in Artificial Intelligence. It would be best if you kept up the way ATS works for clearing this war would be the definite first step, which will get you to sit in front of the recruiter for an interview opportunity.

#resume #hacking #fortune500



Devieka Gautam

📌 Career Development | Remote Work | Freelancing 🌏 Founder: www.brandxdash.com 🏆 Linkedin Optimization Strategist 💸 'Freelancing on Fiverr' course out now!