Should You be Worried About Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)?

Are You Concerned About Resume Robots?

By now, it is no secret that more and more companies are utilising technology to help them assess the increasing number of job applications for advertised roles. But should you be worried about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)?


So, What is ATS?

ATS is essentially an online software application that accepts and stores information that job candidates input. It is designed specifically for recruitment tracking purposes. Once collected, the data provided by candidates for each position may be easily reviewed by the employer and others involved in the hiring process. The ATS can sift through the applications and help hiring companies determine which candidates may be the most qualified for a given position based on criteria set by that employer.

It is worth understanding that an ATS is programmed to scan for keywords as well as other information such as former employers, experience, universities, and qualifications. They categorise candidates automatically in order of potential interest for the recruiter. An ATS may reject more than half the resumes they scan.

These systems are quickly becoming the primary way that large companies find qualified candidates online.

Worried About Applicant Tracking Systems

Optimise Your Resume and Do Not be Worried About Applicant Tracking Systems

Fortunately, you can beat applicant tracking systems with a bit of simple optimisation. To do this, you will need the right format, the right keywords, and the right strategy for your CV. But before we get there, we are going to take you through the basics.


The aspect of your resume that the ATS is most interested in is the keywords. The main function of an ATS is to read your resume and compare its content to the relevant job description, looking for the best match. This means that your resume cannot be a one-size-fits-all document; ideally, it should be tailored for each position you apply to. Read the job posting carefully and use the same language to describe your skills and experience.

This means your base resume should be flexible enough to be able to tweak without having to re-write it from scratch. Here at Select Resumes, we factor this element into our documents, effectively future-proofing you to be able to apply for different roles within your profession.

But do not overdo the keywords. Do not stuff your resume full of the same keyword over and over, or create hidden keywords in an invisible font (yes, people actually do that!). The ATS knows when you are trying to fool it. Instead, be subtle with your resume keywords. Just sprinkle them sensibly throughout your resume.

A good place for keywords is your skills section, where you list your core competencies or abilities. Using the main phrases in bullet points is an excellent way to make sure you are using all of the right keywords in a way that fits in the resume organically and is easy for ATS software to read.

An ATS application also allows you to be less ruthless in editing your resume. Because the ATS is an untiring robot instead of an already-bored hiring manager, your resume can be as long as it needs to be as long as the right keywords are there.

FYI – Spell out Your Acronyms

In our hurry to convey information in as short a means as possible, acronyms have become the order of the day in business jargon. Medical and mining resumes, for example, can be liberally sprinkled with acronyms that are commonplace, but even so, spell it out the first time you use, then you can move on to the acronym later on.

Spell Correctly and Use Good Grammar

Yes, the resume robot is like your English teacher; it will give you bad marks for bad spelling and terrible grammar. Only in this case bad marks will probably equal outright rejection.


Keep your format clean and simple – do not mix up fonts, point sizes and colours. A clean sans-serif font, no smaller than 11pt, will be just fine.

Worried About Applicant Tracking Systems


Do not be worried about Applicant Tracking Systems, and do not let the robots cause you to forget your own humanity. Simply because the hirer has decided to use ATS to streamline their applicant search does not mean you have to act like a robot yourself. Find a way to show your unique personality, your enthusiasm and your commitment within the text.

And even if you cannot contact the hirer directly, try reaching out to someone within the organisation to see how your application is going. Use your network to send a note and make it clear that you are excited about this job. If you succeed in making an impression this way, the employer may make a point of finding your application in the ATS and giving it a look.

Are you seeking a professional resume writing service? Select Resumes can provide this service to you at the highest standard. Select Resumes also offers dedicated selection criteria writers to give you the help that you need for even the most complex government job applications. Once you have secured your interview, talk to us about our experienced and passionate interview skills coaches so that you can feel more confident at your next job interview.

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