How to break past the ATS?

How many candidates apply for an average job these days?

Fifty? Hundred?

Well, according to Forbes magazine, at least 118 candidates apply for every vacant job position.

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So, how do companies keep pace with all those candidates? It wasn’t that long ago when HR interns read every resume a company received. About 10 percent of those went up the chain to hiring managers who would take thirty or more seconds to review all qualified applicants. Sometimes it becomes really difficult for an employer to ensure proper recruitment management systems without the help of an appropriate applicant tracking system.

Yes, these days, it’s the ATS that does most of the job, of accepting resumes and searching for a needle from a stack of hay.

However, is it really possible to apply at a job and get beyond the ATS?

Well, experts put it in a very simple way. Stating that ATS is just an algorithm and all algorithms can be deconstructed. If you can learn the system, you can break the system as well. This implies, knowing about a few ATS quirks and using them to your advantage.

  1. Find the perfect keywords

Keywords have a significant role to play

Keywords are one of the most significant aspects of breaking past the ATS. This is because, the ATS will specifically look for the keywords that were shared in the job description. So, these keywords must be included. It is important that you get the job description out and find all the relevant keywords.

  1. Start from scratch

Even if you already have a resume ready, its better you start from scratch. Do not make an effort to make the resume look pretty or something. Use a computer-friendly font and simple bullets. The idea is to keep it as simple as possible so that you do not end up confusing the computer systems.

  1. Use plain language for headers

ATS usually scans the easily recognizable headers such as “Education” and “Work Experience” and these words are likely to be easily understood by the ATS, other than words such as “Scholastic achievements” or “professional contributions”. So, make sure that you avoid these kind of jargons which will be difficult for the ATS to figure out.

  1. Customize your content

Make sure you alter your resume with every application. This is said because, your resume must fit the job description of a particular company or job opening, every time you are applying to it. While tailoring your resume to each job description can be a tiring task, you must understand that it has its own benefits. The more you customize it according to the keywords, the more helpful it will be.

  1. Be Yourself

While it is important to appease the ATS, do not forget that it is you who is the most important in this sphere. Your resume is a representation of the real you, and a collection of your career achievements. It’s a tool for marketing the brand called you. When it works, you rise to the top of the pile and stand out as the cream of the crop.

Getting past the ATS might not be a huge deal, provided you know how to customize it and make the best of it.


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