December 4, 2023
Career Growth

What are Applicant Tracking Systems and their Importance when Applying for Jobs

What are Applicant Tracking Systems


In today’s competitive job market, many employers rely on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to help them manage the high volume of resumes they receive for job postings. While ATS can help employers quickly identify top candidates, they can also make it more challenging for job seekers to get noticed if they are not familiar with how the system works. In this article, we will explore what you need to know about ATS when applying for jobs and provide tips and best practices for optimizing your resume and application to increase your chances of getting hired.

What are Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and their Importance?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a software program used by employers to manage the recruitment process, from receiving and reviewing resumes to scheduling interviews and making job offers. ATS are commonly used by larger companies and organizations that receive a high volume of job applications.

The ATS software allows employers to automate and streamline many aspects of the hiring process, including posting job openings, screening resumes, and communicating with candidates. ATS can also help employers comply with legal requirements, such as Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) regulations.

When a candidate applies for a job, their resume is uploaded into the ATS, where it is automatically parsed and analyzed. The ATS compares the resume to the job posting and other criteria, such as required skills and experience, and assigns the resume a score or ranking. Resumes that meet the specified criteria are then forwarded to the hiring manager or recruiter for further review and consideration.

While ATS can save employers time and effort in managing the hiring process, they can also pose a challenge for job seekers. The software relies on algorithms and keyword matching to evaluate resumes, which means that resumes must be optimized to ensure they pass the initial screening process. Job seekers must also be familiar with ATS and understand how to tailor their resumes and applications to increase their chances of getting noticed and selected for an interview.

How Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) Works?

  1. Job Posting: Employers create a job posting and post it on various job boards and company websites.
  2. Application Submission: Job seekers apply for the job by submitting their resume and other relevant information online or through an ATS-integrated application system.
  3. Resume Parsing: The ATS automatically parses the resume and extracts key information, such as work experience, education, and skills.
  4. Keyword Matching: The ATS matches the resume against the job posting based on keywords and phrases relevant to the position.
  5. Ranking: The ATS assigns a score or ranking to the resume based on how well it matches the job posting.
  6. Screening: The ATS screens out resumes that do not meet the specified criteria or score below a certain threshold.
  7. Forwarding: The ATS forwards the most qualified resumes to the hiring manager or recruiter for further review.
  8. Communication: The ATS may also send automated communication to candidates to keep them informed about the status of their application.

Keywords in Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Here are some tips for using keywords in your resume and application to increase your chances of passing the initial screening process in an ATS:

  1. Use Relevant Keywords: Look for keywords and phrases in the job posting that match your skills and experience, and include them in your resume and application.
  2. Use Variations of Keywords: Use variations of keywords and phrases to ensure you are not missing any relevant terms. For example, if the job posting requires “customer service skills,” you could also use “customer support” or “client relations” in your resume.
  3. Use Action Verbs: Use action verbs to describe your experience and achievements. These verbs can also serve as keywords and make your resume stand out to the ATS.
  4. Avoid Overusing Keywords: While it’s important to use relevant keywords in your resume and application, it’s also important to avoid overusing them. This can come across as “keyword stuffing” and may negatively impact your chances of getting selected for an interview.
  5. Customize Your Resume: Customize your resume and application for each job you apply to. This will help ensure that you are using the most relevant keywords and phrases for each position.

Tailoring Your Resume for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Tailoring your resume for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) can help increase your chances of passing the initial screening process and getting noticed by hiring managers. Here are some tips for optimizing your resume for ATS:

  1. Use Relevant Keywords: As mentioned earlier, using relevant keywords is important when applying for jobs through an ATS. Identify the keywords used in the job posting and make sure to include them in your resume.
  2. Use a Standard Format: Stick to a standard format for your resume. Avoid using unusual fonts, graphics, and symbols that may not be recognized by the ATS.
  3. Use a Clear and Concise Layout: Use a clear and concise layout for your resume. Use headings, bullet points, and white space to make your resume easy to read and navigate.
  4. Avoid Using Images and Graphics: Avoid using images and graphics in your resume as they may not be recognized by the ATS.
  5. Use Relevant Job Titles: Use relevant job titles in your work experience section. This will help the ATS recognize your experience and match it with the job requirements.
  6. Focus on Achievements: Instead of just listing job duties, focus on your achievements and how you added value to your previous roles. This will help your resume stand out and show your potential to hiring managers.
  7. Proofread Your Resume: Make sure to proofread your resume and check for spelling and grammar errors. ATS may not recognize misspelled words or grammatical mistakes.

Maximizing Your ATS Profile

When applying for jobs through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), it’s important to not only tailor your resume and cover letter but also maximize your ATS profile. Here are some tips for maximizing your ATS profile:

  1. Complete Your Profile: Make sure you fill out your ATS profile completely, including your education, work experience, and skills. This will help the ATS match your qualifications to job openings.
  2. Highlight Your Achievements: Use your ATS profile to highlight your achievements and accomplishments. This will show hiring managers what you can bring to the table.
  3. Keep it Up to Date: Make sure you keep your ATS profile up to date with your latest work experience, education, and skills. This will ensure that your profile is always relevant and up to date.
  4. Keep it Professional: Use a professional photo and avoid using slang or unprofessional language in your profile. This will help you make a good impression on potential employers.
  5. Utilize Endorsements: If your ATS profile allows for endorsements, ask former colleagues or managers to endorse your skills. This will add credibility to your profile and make you stand out to potential employers.


Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have become a ubiquitous tool in the job application process. By understanding how ATS works, the role of keywords, and tailoring your resume to fit the system, job seekers can increase their chances of being noticed by hiring managers. Additionally, maximizing your ATS profile by completing it, highlighting your achievements, keeping it professional and up to date, and networking can further enhance your chances of landing your dream job. By following these tips, you can navigate the ATS and stand out from the competition in the crowded job market.

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