Applicant Tracking Systems

Remember the last time you applied to a job that you were confident you were perfectly suited for, but got rejected before you even made it to the interview stages, before you really got a chance to sell yourself in person?

We've probably all experienced it, but the chances are that your application was never even read by a human, and instead was rejected by what's known as an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

To understand why optimising your CV for an ATS is crucially important to your geo-career, it's useful to understand how and why an ATS is used.

What are Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)?

Simply put, an ATS is used to automate some of early stages of candidate selection during the recruitment process. Many of the job descriptions you'll see online have been integrated into the website by an ATS. Candidates are able to upload a CV directly to the job, which in turn is then filtered by the ATS algorithms based on suitability. 

DO ALL RECRUITERS USE an ATS?

Almost all medium to large companies will have some form of ATS to whittle down potentially hundreds of applications into a more manageable list. Like them or not, they have significantly improved the recruitment process for employers and are not likely to be leaving the markets any time soon.

You know those automated rejection emails we all hate? Well if it wasn't for ATS, you'd be lucky to even receive an acknowledgement from bigger companies.

How an ATS can fail

Unfortunately many are flawed. Very flawed. They do not like CVs formatted using text boxes, fancy formatting or lots of colour, and can only scan for specific keywords or phrases. You could be the “perfect” candidate, but a simple formatting error or missed keyword can prevent you even being considered for the role.

How to beat the ATS

If you want to learn how to beat the ATS, you can read our article on how to make your CV ATS-friendly.


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