3 mins read

What Are Application Tracking Systems & How Do They Work?

14 March 2024
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Have you ever wondered how employers sort through countless resumes to find the perfect match?

Enter the world of Application Tracking Systems (ATS), a game-changer in the job application process that you might not have encountered yet.

If you’re a student dipping your toes into the professional world, understanding ATS is like unlocking the secret code to landing your dream job.

In this blog, we’ll demystify the workings of ATS, offering insights into how these systems streamline recruitment and, more importantly, how you can tailor your application to stand out in the digital crowd.

Ready to decode the key to getting noticed? Let’s dive in!

What are ATS & How Do They Work?

ATS are software used to track and streamline candidates throughout the hiring process.

When a resume is submitted, the ATS works its magic by scanning it and picking up information that aligns with the job title and required skills for the role. The resume is then ranked against other applications based on how well it matches the position.

All of this occurs without a pair of human eyes seeing the resume. When the ATS has identified top candidates, their applications might be read to progress them to interview rounds.

The worst thing to be is a serial resume submitter! With 98% of Fortune 500 companies using ATS, often weeding out 75% of applications before they reach human eyes, it pays to spend time creating a well-written resume that addresses the essential skills and requirements of the job description.

Making Your Resume Machine AND Human-Friendly

It’s important to remember that ATS are not bad – they’re just something to remember when applying for work.

All the blogs we have about tailoring and writing your resume will help you ensure you put together the best resume possible to help you land the next stage of the application process.

Keep these tips in mind when writing and reviewing your resume.

  1. Keyword optimisation is key: Look for the keywords in the job description and ensure you include those that apply to you in your resume. For example, the role of a Marketing Coordinator may require the skills of ‘content creation’, ‘paid advertising’ and ‘stakeholder engagement’. It would be important that these are reflected in a resume as keywords.
  2. But don’t keyword stuff: Remember that human eyes will read your application at some point, even if it ranks highly after passing ATS checks. A resume that merely fills space with every possible keyword mentioned in the position description and lacks comprehension won’t cut it, as this will appear insincere and untrustworthy to the recruiter.
  3. Use a clean and well-organised resume format: Use a standard font such as Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman so the ATS can easily read your resume. Order your resume by experience first, followed by skills, training and education.
  4. Use bullet points and shorter sentences: No one likes a never-ending resume. A resume for a casual job or entry-level role shouldn’t exceed two pages. Being concise will play in your favour when scanned by the ATS and read by the recruiter.
  5. Only include relevant experience: Pick out the roles that best align with the job requirements you’re applying for. Don’t forget that unpaid internships and volunteer experience count, and you should put them up front, especially if you haven’t had any paid experience in your chosen industry.
  6. Submit as Word or PDF: This is easy, but these file formats are recommended as they’re easily recognised and scanned by the ATS.

Being smart and knowing what to address in a resume can save you time and stress when applying for jobs.

Resume Success is in YOUR Hands

ATS allows employers to speed up their hiring process by quickly and effectively extracting top applicants whose resumes communicate relevant experience and address the job criteria.

Knowing how it works lets you quickly understand how to shape your resume so it passes the ATS test and impresses the hiring manager.

Don’t forget, we’ve got plenty of expert resume writing guidance on our blog – direct from employers who want you to be a success!

Best of luck, and happy job hunting!


Rate this article

Did you find this article helpful?

    Back to top

      Sign up to our Newsletter

      Get the latest on job opportunities, insights and news to help explore your future

      Why are we asking for this? Postcodes help us make sure that the information we send is relevant to you in your area.

      Thank you for signing up

      We'll keep you updated with the latest on job opportunities, insights and news to help explore your future.