The Importance of ATS (Applicant Tracking System) in Talent Search

Tech recruiting - smallOrganizations increasingly rely on machines to sort out resumes long before they reach the hands of a human recruiter. Recent data indicates that nearly 99% of Fortune 500 companies and a growing chunk of small and mid-sized businesses now regularly filter resumes through an applicant tracking system (ATS) before their HR department gets involved. According to Top Companies Data, the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) market size is expected to reach USD 1480.5 million by 2026, a considerable leap from USD 1123.5 million in 2021, at a CAGR of 4.7%.

This is why it's critical for people to actually understand how ATS works, how it parses through your resume, and how to ace the ATS so get your resume the attention it deserves from human decision-makers conducting the actual job interviews.

What You Need to Know About Applicant Tracking Systems

What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

An Applicant Tracking System is a piece of software designed to help enterprises electronically handle the recruiting process. The ATS essentially goes through all the resumes electronically submitted on the company’s database. It acts as the company’s first line of verification in finding suitable resumes to fill the current job vacancies. This first level of verification is based on certain set criteria and parameters to gauge best fit. In the case of ATS, this is done through targeted keyword search in all the CVs. If the CVs contain the pre-programmed relevant keywords for that particular job role, the CV is accepted and processed for the next level of recruitment.

Why use Applicant Tracking Systems?

Applicant Tracking Systems enable companies to get rid of a lot of cost and confusion involved in paper trails and other traditional forms of talent search. This helps recruiters to stay focused instead of spending a lot of their office time in just filing and shredding papers, or moving and deleting emails in an effort to stay organized. This also helps avoid costly errors such as accidental deletion of important contacts and helps keep the team lean by supercharging the application processing system.

How does an Applicant Tracking System work?

An Applicant Tracking System can look for relevant talent in two ways. It can process all incoming resumes in the company’s database and also comb through social media to look for relevant talent and skillsets. The Applicant Tracking System is capable of ‘reading’ resumes thanks to artificial intelligence capabilities. These keywords may also include names of preferred universities, preferred companies for job experience and necessary skills and experience.

The role of Social Media in ATS

Many Applicant Tracking Systems are designed to parse through professional profiles of candidates on social networks. They can also parse through social media sites with relevant keywords selected by the employers for the job roles.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The best way to make sure your application passes through the Applicant Tracking System is to treat the resume like an item to land on the first page of SERP or search engine page results. As any web content creator will tell you, this means that you need to optimize the quality of content on your resume for search engine optimization (SEO). This means paying attention to the list of potential matching keywords relevant to the job role including alternative job titles, related skills and experience.

Extensive research

One thing that applicants should always keep in mind is that they should always tweak the resume to fit the specific job they are applying for. This could include minor or major tweaks depending on the roles the applicant wants to target. The way to find potential relevant keywords is to thoroughly research the organization, the specific job role and the skill sets that may be relevant to it. It is possible to conduct this research through person-to-person networking or online searches. This will give you a hint about the correct direction to follow in order to succeed in the keyword-seeking Applicant Tracking System and help you to optimize for keywords. Another useful tip here is to go through the profiles of the current employees of the company the applicant is aspiring to enter and check their backgrounds and qualifications. This is highly useful if there are profiles available from the same division/ team/ background that the applicant wants to get into and check if these people share similar qualifications and whether or not the applicant could be a good fit in the team.

Avoid common errors

If the motive is to pass through the Applicant Tracking System with flying colors, applicants will do well to be as direct and keyword-oriented in their resume content as possible. Applicants tend to play up the soft skills a lot, and this leads to vague, immeasurable qualities such as ‘great team player’ etc. The ATS system is geared towards being as efficient as possible and will likely only search for a handful of high impact relevant skillsets. For instance, the right educational qualification (name of the degree or the specific area of education) can be high-impact keywords.

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About the Author: Scott Young, is the president of PennComp LLC, a Managed IT services Houston company. Being a CPA, Six Sigma Master Blackbelt, Change Management Certified and Myers Briggs Qualified, Scott's expertise is reflected in PennComp as a leading IT company for computer services and network integration. PennComp utilizes Six Sigma methodologies and practices in their service delivery and offers state-of-the-art monitoring and management tools to their clients. Website:

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