What is ATS? The term gets flung around by recruiters and job search sites alike, with very few expanding on what it actually means and why it should matter to you. Even when you do discover what the acronym stands for, knowing its importance and how it should affect your CV is another matter entirely. In this article, we’ll explain the ins and outs of ATS including what it is, why it matters and most importantly how you can adapt your CV to suit it.   

What is ATS?

ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System. Effectively it’s a program that scans your CV to check whether you fulfil the job requirements laid out by the employer. It’s designed to filter unsuitable candidates before the CV is read by a potential employer, saving them the time and effort of trawling through piles and piles of resumes that don’t have the right experience or qualifications. 

Why Does ATS matter?

So now you know what ATS is and what it does, why should you care? It’s only really a problem for the unsuitable job applicants, the ones that are just trying their luck, right? I’m afraid not. Plenty of perfectly qualified and suitable candidates get filtered out by ATS simply because they don’t understand the algorithm or how to adapt their CV’s to suit it. According to an article from Jobscan ‘98% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS while a Kelly OCG survey estimated 66% of large companies and 35% of small organizations rely on recruitment software.’

So as well as being a potential hurdle to you getting your next job, it’s pretty widely used. There are also many different producers and types of Applicant Tracking Systems and they can do more than just get rid of unsuitable CV’s. Some ATS systems rank candidates suitability by matching their CVs against the job description and specification. If you want to avoid being automatically put in the “No” pile or being ranked at the bottom, it’s vital that your CV be optimised for ATS. 

How to Optimise your CV for ATS

Onto the most important part, namely How to make your CV stand out to the robot. Fortunately, this isn’t as difficult as it may at first seem. At DiamondCV all of our personalised CVs are ATS optimised and tailored to your targeted roles, giving you the best chance at winning your Dream Job. To find out how we can help make your CV Shine book a free CV Assessment. If your happy with your CVs effectiveness, follow these four steps and your CV should be good to go for both humans and machines alike:

1. Keywords

The most important thing to remember is to use the words of the job description/specification in your CV and cover letter. The ATS is set up to check your CV against the employer’s Job description so it is crucial that the keywords they use feature regularly in your resume. For Example, If the Job spec asks for at least “3 years B2B Marketing Experience”, then make sure that when you list your own experiences you mention it and that you have over the minimum amount. If you’re applying for similar types of jobs you’ll find that the job descriptions use similar keywords to one another so after this initial step the changes you’ll need to make should be minimal. 

2. Be Specific

If you’ve got qualifications make sure you have the full title and award written correctly. If the job description asks for a minimum 2:1 degree then make sure that when you outline your qualification you have all the relevant information recorded correctly. This may seem obvious but a small mistake such as not recording the exact award or awarding body might cause the ATS to skip over it. 

The same applies to technical courses, ensure the full title of the qualification is correct. Always be sure to explain why the qualification is relevant to the job you’re applying for, ideally using the keywords we’ve already mentioned – they’ll likely be under the skills part of the job description. 

3. Use Industry-Standard Titles

We know some businesses enjoy using whacky titles for their employees like “sales-ninja” or “HR Grandmaster” but it can confuse the ATS which is geared to the industry standard rather than the full scope of titles. There’s far less chance of the ATS overlooking you if you use Industry standard titles such as “Sales Assistant” or “Head of Marketing” despite how much better the former titles sound.

4. Write Fluently!

It can be tempting to load your CV up with keywords so that it sounds more like a shopping list than a well written fluent essay about you and your career achievements. Remember that when you get past the ATS, your CV will still be read by an actual human so oversimplifying sentences and aimlessly maxing out keywords will still greatly hinder your chances of securing the job, even if you trick the robot. Your CV should read fluently, with concise thought-out sentences rather than a list of keywords and phrases.